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World food prices at record high: UN food agency

Rajasthan, India farmers thresh a wheat crop in March

The UN food agency says world food prices jumped to a new record high in March as the war in Ukraine caused turmoil in grains and edible oils markets.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) food price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month versus an upwardly revised 141.4 for February.

The February figure was previously put at 140.7, which was a record at the time.

Russia and Ukraine are both major exporters of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil via the Black Sea, and Moscow's six-week-old invasion of its neighbour has stalled Ukrainian exports.

FAO warned last month that food and feed prices could rise by up to 20 per cent as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, triggering a jump in global malnourishment.

The agency also cut its estimate of world wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tonnes on Friday from a forecast of 790 million last month as it factored in the possibility that at least 20 per cent of Ukraine's winter crop area would not be harvested.

It lowered its projection of global cereals trade in the 2021/22 marketing year as disruption to Black Sea exports were seen as only being partially offset by increased exports from India, the European Union, Argentina and the United States. 

Rabobank Australia's senior commodities analyst Cheryl Kalisch-Gordon spoke with Flow on Friday about global conditions and their impact for Australian farmers:


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