The Cereal Price Index averaged 168.5 points in April, 1.7 percent higher than in March and 15.4% above its value in April 2017. The index has followed an upward trend for the fourth consecutive month, with prices of wheat, coarse grains and rice all gaining momentum in recent months. In the case of wheat, weather-related risks, especially in the United States, and robust trade provided support to prices, while expectations of lower plantings in the United States, on the backdrop of drought-reduced production in Argentina, continued to push up international maize prices.
The Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 154.6 points in April, dropping 1.4% due to developments in palm, soy and sunflower oils markets. International price quotations of palm oil declined on slowing demand growth and prospective seasonal production gains in Southeast Asia. Soy oil values weakened further, reflecting persistently strong crushing levels among key producers. Conversely, sunflower oil prices firmed, fueled by expectations of tightening global export supplies.
The Dairy Price Index averaged 204.1 points in April, up 3.4% from March, representing the third successive month of increase. The index is over 11% above its level in the corresponding month last year. The upward price trend reflects robust import demand for all milk products, combined with market apprehensions regarding export availabilities in New Zealand following a bigger than anticipated decline in its milk output.
The Sugar Price Index averaged nearly 176.6 points in April, down 4.8% from March and as much as 24% lower than its April 2017 value. Continued declines in sugar price quotations since last December are largely a reflection of a supply glut in the sugar market, especially in view of record outputs in Thailand and India. Additional downward pressure stemmed from a depreciation of the Brazilian currency (Real) with respect to the U.S. Dollar, coupled with anticipated government support measures in India and Pakistan geared at boosting sugar exports.
The Meat Price Index averaged 169 points in April, down 0.9% from a slightly revised value for March. At this level, the index is almost equal to its value in April 2017. During the month, bovine and pig meat prices decreased slightly, while those of ovine and poultry meat remained stable. Larger exports from the Americas underpinned the decrease in bovine meat prices, while slackened import demand caused pig meat prices to ease.