May 5, 2023 - Economy

Global food prices rise for first time in a year

Grocery store

Produce section of a Walmart store in the Uptown Mall in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in July 2022. Photo: James MacDonald/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Global food prices rose in April for the first time in a year, according to new figures released Friday by the United Nations' food agency.

Driving the news: Food commodity prices increased about 0.6% in April from March, according to the UN's food price index, which tracks the cost of major food commodities.

  • The spike was driven by a "steep increase" in sugar prices, as well as increased costs for meat and rice, which helped offset losses in the vegetable, cereal and dairy price indices.

Yes, but: Prices are still much lower than the record high reached in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine,

  • The index is 19.7% below its April 2022 level, as well.

State of play: "As economies recover from significant slowdowns, demand will increase, exerting upward pressure on food prices,” said Maximo Torero, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's chief economist, in a press release.

  • “At the same time, the increase in rice prices is extremely worrisome and it is essential that the Black Sea initiative is renewed to avoid any other spikes in wheat and maize,” Torero added.

Zoom in: The cereal price index saw an overall drop as declines in major grain prices — including wheat, maize and barley — outpaced an increase in rice prices.

  • Sugar prices rose 17.6% from March, reaching their highest level since October 2011.
  • The meat index jumped 1.3% from the previous month.

Our thought bubble, from Axios' managing editor for business and markets Javier E. David: With worldwide growth slowing and observers desperate for signs of easing inflation — particularly because central banks are still tightening— this news couldn’t come at a worse time, especially for consumers still feeling the effects of high prices.

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