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World food prices up for eighth month

March 4, 2011 at 1:43 AM

ROME, March 4 (UPI) -- World food prices, excluding sugar, rose in February for an eighth straight month, with cereal prices causing a major concern, the United Nations said.

In its February report, the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome said with growing demand and a decline in world cereal production in 2010, global cereal stocks this year are expected to fall sharply. The report said wheat and coarse grains face inventory declines.

The report said export prices of major grains have shot up at least 70 percent from February of last year.

"Unexpected oil price spikes could further exacerbate an already precarious situation in food markets," David Hallam, director of FAO's Trade and Market Division, said. "This adds even more uncertainty concerning the price outlook just as plantings for crops in some of the major growing regions are about to start."

The FAO Food Price Index averaged a record 236 points in February, up 2.2 percent from January.

The Cereal Price Index, which includes prices of main food staples such as wheat, rice and maize, rose to 254 points in February, up 3.7 percent from January.

Others in the index include dairy products, oil and fats, meat and sugar.

FAO sugar price index averaged 418 points in February, slightly below that of January, but still 16 percent higher than that of February 2010.

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