International food prices remained steady compared to the previous month and were lower than a year earlier as meat prices showed only subtle changes.

FAO food prices stable with little change in meat, dairyThe monthly index shows the November average of 206.3 points is 0.3 lower than October and 9.5 points below last November’s index. The index is measured using the international average of five commodity group prices indices.

Considering the five commodities of cereal, vegetable oil, dairy, meat and sugar, the month-to-month increase in vegetable oil prices was countered by a sharp decline in sugar prices. Vegetable oils increased by 5.6 percent while sugar prices fell 5.3 percent from October.

Last month’s meat prices were unchanged from October, averaging 187.1 points. The average is only 0.6 points above the index rating from 12 months earlier. The meat index considers four types of meat and shows an increase in bovine and ovine meat opposed by a move lower for pork products. Poultry prices remained steady. Producers have benefitted from reduced feed costs which have helped improve margins.

Dairy farmers have also taken advantage of lower feed costs as the index is even with the previous month and well above a year earlier. According to the FAO Food Price Index, the November dairy index averaged 251.4 points, up 23 percent from the 204.2-point average in November 2012. Dairy prices are supported by strong demand for milk powder, especially from China.

Cereal prices fell one percent from a month earlier and are 24 percent lower than the November 2012 level. Prices were pulled lower as supply concerns have been erased by a record cereal crop.