ROME (Reuters) - World food prices were stable in September with a fall in sugar prices offset by climbs for vegetable oils and meat, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 169.9 points last month unchanged from August.
The August figure was previously given as 169.8
FAO also predicted that cereal production would be slightly less abundant in 2019 than previously expected.
The FAO Sugar Price Index dropped 3.9% from August levels, mainly because of expectations of strong sugar stocks thanks to positive production prospects for the 2019/20 marketing season.
By contrast, the Vegetable Oil Price Index rose 1.4% month-on-month, marking its highest level in 13 months, while the meat index rose 0.8%.
The cereal price index was barely changed from August, although the various components moved in different directions. While wheat prices were firmer, maize quotations were down month-on-month because of large export availabilities and rice prices were marginally lower.
FAO lowered its forecast for global cereal production in 2019 by 2.2 million tonnes, pegging world cereal output at 2.706 billion tonnes, but still up 2.0% from 2018 levels.
“The latest cut emanates mostly from reduced prospects for global rice and wheat outputs, which outweighed a bigger production forecast for coarse grains,” FAO said.
World cereal utilization in 2019/20 was forecast at 2.714 billion tonnes, down 1.7 million tonnes from September, but 1.3% higher than in 2018/19 and marking a record high.
FAO raised its forecast for world cereal stocks by the close of the 2020 season by 2.4 million tonnes to 850 million tonnes, down 2.0% from their opening levels.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer