World food prices climbed for the fifth consecutive month in October, nearly returning to levels from the start of the year, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported Thursday.
The broad FAO World Food Price Index gained 3.1 percent in October, its biggest one-month rise this year. It is now 6.0 percent above its levels from a year ago and close to its 2020 highs set in January.
The biggest mover in the index came from grains and cereals, which rose for the fourth straight month, climbing 7.2 percent compared to September. With the latest increases, the index is now 16.5 percent above levels in September 2019.
FAO said corn prices rose in part due to higher-than-normal demand from China and lower exports from Brazil, while wheat prices climbed due to lower supply from Argentina, North America, Europe, and the Black Sea region. Rice prices declined to their lowest levels in seven months due to expectations of strong production levels in Asia.
The other big mover in the index was sugar prices, which jumped 7.6 percent, pushed by expectations that supply would drop from the world's two largest producers, Brazil and India, respectively.
The vegetable oil index rose by 1.8 percent, the smallest one-month rise in a four-month period of steady gains. For the second consecutive month, higher palm oil prices were the biggest factor, FAO said.
Dairy prices rose by 2.2 percent, pushed by higher demand for cheese in Asian and Middle Eastern markets, while meat prices declined 0.5 percent, the ninth straight decline for the sub-index.
The monthly FAO Food Price Index is based on worldwide prices for 23 food commodity categories covering prices for 73 different products compared to a baseline year. The next index is scheduled for release on Dec. 3, 2020.