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Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Bulletin #10, 13 December 2023

Monthly report on food price trends












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    International cereal price trends were mixed in September 2023. Maize prices have increased, reflecting a variety of different factors in the major exporting countries, while wheat prices continued to ease as harvests came to an end in the Northern Hemisphere. Meanwhile, generally subdued import demand slightly lowered international rice prices, amid lingering uncertainties regarding India’s rice export policy and progressively thinning supplies in various exporters. In most countries monitored by FAO, domestic staple food prices in September 2023 remained above their year-earlier levels. Rising energy prices continued to support higher transport and distribution costs, while currency weakness contributed to inflate import costs. Insecurity and conflict have remained important contributory factors to food price increases in Haiti and parts of East and West Africa, while the prevailing El Niño phenomenon is raising concerns over prospects for the 2023/24 crop production in parts of Asia and Southern Africa.
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    International prices of grains increased overall again in May although they began to fall towards the end of the month on improved production prospects. International prices of rice held steady in May, with logistics problems and high shipping costs keeping trading activity subdued throughout the month. In East Africa, prices of coarse grains remained at near-record to record levels in the Sudan and South Sudan, underpinned by insufficient supplies and severe macro-economic difficulties, including currency weakness sustaining food inflation. Prices of maize grain in South Africa climbed moderately in May and remained up on a yearly basis, as the effects of higher prices on the international market have outweighed downward pressure from a substantial maize crop estimated for 2021. In South America, prices of yellow maize increased further in the key producing countries, Argentina and Brazil, remaining well above their year-earlier levels reflecting upward pressure from record export sales and adverse dry crop conditions, respectively. Markets in both countries were also supported by the strong upward trends in international price quotations.
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    International prices of wheat fell again in January, as the short-term outlook for global supplies continued to improve, in particular following latest estimates of larger 2022 outputs in Australia and the Russian Federation than earlier expected. By contrast, international coarse grain prices firmed marginally, mostly reflecting the continued strong demand for maize supplies from Brazil. For rice, tighter availabilities, strong local demand in some Asian exporting countries and exchange rate movements increased international prices at an accelerated pace in January. FAO’s analysis of domestic staple food prices indicates that significantly high price levels persisted in December 2022 and January 2023, despite some evidence of easing from 2022 peaks for selected countries, including parts of Southern Africa and West Africa. Food access constraints will likely continue in the near term, amid fragile social and economic conditions in several areas, especially in the Horn of Africa. Developments in the global market, along with other concurrent shocks, including adverse weather events, conflicts and macroeconomic challenges such as currency weaknesses, will continue to influence domestic staple food price trends.

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