World food prices reach highest level since February


People buy gallons of milk, frozen orange juice, eggs and beans at a grocery store. (Photo: VCG)

ROME, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- World food prices in August rose to the highest level since February, due to a "firmer demand" for grains, cereals, vegetable oils and sugar, as well as a "weaker U.S. dollar," the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reported Thursday.

The broad FAO World Food Price Index gained 2.0 percent, following gains of 1.2 percent and 2.4 percent in July and June, respectively. The combined gains since June were enough to nearly cancel out falling prices over the first five months of the year.

FAO said the index is 2.2 percent above its level a year earlier.

Unlike the previous two months, prices for grains and cereals rose, gaining 1.9 percent compared to July. Rice and corn prices were among the biggest gainers, with rice prices pushed higher by a seasonal dip in production and increased demand from Africa, while corn prices climbed due to lower supply from farmers in the United States.

The vegetable oil index rose by 5.9 percent on the heels of a 7.6-percent gain in July and an 11.3-percent increase in June.

Sugar prices also climbed, gaining 6.7 percent in August, with higher demand from China and Europe and falling production in Thailand, the world's second-leading sugar exporter, listed as major factors by FAO.

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.