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Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Bulletin # 8, 13 October 2020

Monthly Report on Food Price Trends












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    International prices of grains increased sharply again in October, driven by reduced production prospects, tighter inventories and strong import demand. By contrast, international prices of rice fell further with the start of the main crop harvests and lacklustre demand. In East Africa, prices of coarse grains followed mixed trends in October, tracking seasonal patterns. In most countries, prices were around or below their year-earlier levels, except in the Sudan and South Sudan, where they reached new record highs in several markets.  The impact of insufficient supplies and macro‑economic challenges were compounded by a further recent depreciation of the currency in South Sudan and by flood‑related trade disruptions in the Sudan. In West Africa, with the beginning of the 2020 harvest, the upward surge of prices of coarse grains in Nigeria halted, but prices remained well above their historical levels as a result of the difficult macro-economic environment and the disruptive impact of COVID-19-related restrictive measures to the supply chains.
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    International prices of maize surged in January amid shrinking global export supplies and large purchases by China (mainland). Prices of wheat and barley also increased significantly, supported by strong import demand. Export prices of rice increased for a second successive month reflecting robust demand from Asian and African buyers, combined with tight supplies in Thailand and Viet Nam, two major exporting countries. In East Africa, prices of coarse grains generally followed mixed trends in January. In most countries, prices were around or below their year-earlier levels, except in the Sudan and South Sudan, where despite some seasonal declines, they were still at near‑record highs, underpinned by insufficient supplies and severe macro-economic difficulties, including continuous and sustained depreciation of the local currencies. In Central America, despite the ongoing second season harvest, prices of beans increased further in January and were well above their year-earlier levels, especially in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, reflecting crop losses caused by the two consecutive hurricanes in November 2020.
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    International prices of wheat and major coarse grains increased further in November, reflecting continued strong global demand. However, rice values remained steady with support provided by tight availabilities and currency movements in selected South East Asian exporters countering limited demand and harvest pressure in other major origins. In East Africa, prices of coarse grains increased further in the Sudan and South Sudan in November, reaching record highs in several markets of both countries, underpinned by insufficient supplies and difficult macro-economic conditions, including a sustained depreciation of the national currencies. In West Africa, prices of coarse grains eased further in Nigeria with fresh supplies from the 2020 harvest but supply chain bottlenecks amid generally difficult macro-economic conditions sustained them well above their year-earlier values, particularly in the northeast where persistent conflict exacerbated the economic challenges. In Central America, prices of maize and beans increased, especially in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, hit hard by hurricanes Eta and Iota.

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