Global food prices reach highest level since May 2014

Global food commodity prices reached their highest levels since May 2014, marking 11 consecutive months of increases, according to the latest data from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Judie Bizzozero, Content Director

May 14, 2021

2 Min Read
high sugar prices

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly traded food commodities, averaged 120.9 points in April 2021, 1.7% higher than in March and 30.8% above the same period last year. The April rise was led by strong increases in the prices of sugar, followed by oils, meat, dairy and cereals.

The Cereal Price Index averaged 125.1 points in April, up 1.2% from March, resuming its climb after a one-month respite in March, and stood 26% above its April 2020 level. Maize prices rose 5.7% due to smaller-than-anticipated planting intentions in the U.S. and concerns about crop conditions in Argentina, Brazil and the U.S. Maize prices were 66.7% higher than the same time last year. Among other coarse grains, barley and sorghum prices continued to soften, falling 1.2% and 1% respectively in April, but still 26.8% and 86.5%t above their respective values in April 2020. Wheat prices were generally steady in April, remaining 17% above their April 2020 values.

The Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 162 points, or 1.8% in April, as international palm oil quotations rose on concerns that production growth in major exporting countries would be slower than expected. Soy and rapeseed oil values also climbed further, while sunflower oil prices contracted moderately.

The Dairy Price Index averaged 118.9 points in April, up 1.2% from March, rising for the 11th consecutive month and lifting the index 24.1% above its value one year ago. Butter, cheese and skim milk powder (SMP) all saw increased due to solid import demand from Asia, while whole milk powder (WMP) declined slightly.

The Sugar Price Index averaged 100 points in April, up 3.9% from March and reaching levels nearly 60% above April 2020 prices. The rebound in international sugar price quotations was prompted by concerns over slow harvest progress in Brazil and frost damage in France heightening concerns over tighter global supplies.

The Meat Price Index averaged 101.8 points in April, up 1.7% from March, marking a seventh consecutive monthly increase and raising the index by 5.1% above its April 2020 level. Bovine and ovine meat quotations rose, underpinned by solid demand from East Asia, amid tight supplies from Oceania due to ongoing herd rebuilding and low inventories. Pig meat quotations firmed on continued high purchases by East Asia, despite increased overall shipments from the European Union, while Germany continued with no access to the Chinese market due to African swine fever concerns. Poultry meat prices remained steady, reflecting generally balanced global markets.

About the Author(s)

Judie Bizzozero

Content Director, Informa Markets Health & Nutrition

Judie Bizzozero oversees food and beverage content strategy and development for the Health & Nutrition group at Informa Markets (which acquired VIRGO in 2014), including the Food & Beverage Insider, Natural Products Insider and SupplySide/Food ingredients North America brands. She reports on market trends, science-based ingredients, and challenges and solutions in the development of healthy foods and beverages. Bizzozero graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

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