New Delhi: The international food price index in November this year at 215 points was virtually unchanged from its October level.
At the new level, the Index was 23 points, or 10 percent, below its peak in February 2011, but remained two points, or one percent, above its level in November 2010, a statement from UN body Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on its website said.
The prices of cereals, one of the main commodity groups included in the food price index, dropped by 3 points or 1 percent from October.
The retreat was largely driven by wheat prices, which dropped 3 percent, while rice quotations fell only slightly. Coarse grain prices remained virtually unchanged.
Nevertheless, the cereals index remained 6 points higher than in November 2010.
Contributing to the downward pressure on cereal prices is the significant upward revision of the 2011-12 global cereal supply estimate as a result of better crop prospects in some Asian countries and the Russian Federation, and larger than anticipated stocks in the latter.
Other factors include deteriorating world economic prospects and a strong US dollar.
FAO's quarterly crop prospects and food situation report published today confirmed a record level of world cereal production of 2,323 million tonnes for 2011. Although marginally lower than October's estimate, this represents a 3.5 percent increase on 2010 production.
Among cereals, global wheat output is expected to increase by 6.5 percent, while the forecasts for coarse grains and rice were reduced slightly due to a downward adjustment for maize in the US and a deterioration of rice prospects in Indonesia.
Total cereal utilisation in 2011-12 was forecast at 2310 million tonnes, 1.8 percent higher than in 2010-11.
The forecast for world cereal ending stocks by the close of seasons in 2012 has been raised by almost five million tonnes since last month, to 511 million tonnes, the report said.
At this level world cereal stocks would be 10 million tonnes higher than last year and the world cereal stocks-to-use ratio would increase slightly to 22 percent.
FAO's latest estimates indicate that 33 countries around the world are in need of external assistance as a result of crop failures, conflict or insecurity, natural disasters and high domestic food prices.
First Published: Thursday, December 8, 2011, 21:56