Global food prices fell in December, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday, with dairy and meat prices weaker and vegetable oil and sugar prices hit by lower demand for biofuels, while cereals remained steady,
The Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) price index, which measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 188.6 points in December, down 3.2 points or 1.7 percent from November.
Vegetable oil prices were lower as demand for palm oil as a biofuel declined, hit by weaker crude oil prices, a factor which also hit sugar prices. Dairy prices also fell as export stocks rose on the back of weaker demand from major importers including Russia and China. The meat price index was hit by lower prices for beef and mutton from Oceania and pork in Europe.
Only cereal prices remained steady, with FAO's cereal price index averaging 183.9 points in December, up 0.4 percent from November, with stronger wheat prices offsetting a marked fall in rice prices.
Over the full year, the World Food Price Index averaged 202 points, down 3.7 percent from 2013, with the biggest annual falls seen in cereals, which were down 12.5 percent, dairy products, down 7.7 percent, oils, down 6.2 percent and sugar, down 3.8 percent.
Only the Meat Price Index showed an increase, rising by 8.1 percent from 2013. (Reporting by James Mackenzie)