Photo Credit: BBC World Service

The latest FAO Food Price Index was released last week, citing slightly higher food prices from January. The February Index rose by 0.9 points from the previous month. While this is a very slight increase, the Index is 17.2 percent higher than its February 2016 levels. It has now reached the highest level seen since February 2015.

The Cereal Price Index rose 3.7 points in February to hit 150.6 points. This is the highest level seen since June 2016 but only marginally higher than its year-earlier level. Wheat prices were the main driver behind this month's increase, as strong international trade increased wheat quotations by three percent. International maize and rice prices also rose in February.

The Vegetable Oil Price Index fell 7.6 points from January, the first month-on-month decline since October 2016. However, the Index remains 19 percent higher than its year-earlier levels. Both palm oil and soybean oil prices fell in February, due to a combination of improved production prospects in major producing areas, ample global supplies, and decreased import demand.

The Dairy, Meat, and Sugar Price Indices also all rose in February.

In the latest AMIS Market Monitor, also released last week, international crop prices were also reported up from the previous year's levels. The Monitor reports that international food markets are also exhibiting higher levels of volatility due to currency fluctuations, uncertainty about planting and production, and concerns about trade policies. Further increases in food prices are possible if unfavorable weather occurs in major producing areas.

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