The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in its food price index found that food prices were on the decline for the first time in many months. David Hallam, a trade director at the FAO, said the declining price of food was welcome news but it was premature to declare victory.
"We need to see the information on new plantings over the next few weeks to get an idea of future production levels," he said in a statement. "But low stock levels, the implications for oil prices of events in the Middle East and North Africa and the effects of the destruction in Japan all make for continuing uncertainty and price volatility over the coming months."
The price index for cereals was down 2.6 percent from February but still 60 percent higher than March 2010 levels, the FAO said. Rice prices, meanwhile, showed steady declines as low import demand was complemented by abundant exports.
Economic issues like these were among the complaints raised by Arab protesters demonstrating against despotic regimes.