World food prices eased in December, marking the ninth consecutive monthly fall, but gained more than 14 per cent in 2022 compared with the previous year, to reach the highest since records began, the United Nations food agency said today.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) food price index, which tracks international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 132.4 points last month compared with a revised 135.00 points for November.
The November figure was previously given as 135.7 points.
For 2022 as a whole, the benchmark index averaged 143.7 points, up 18 points or 14.3 per cent from 2021, and the highest since records started in 1990.
The decline in the index in December was driven by a steep drop in the international price of vegetable oils, together with some declines in cereal and meat prices, but mitigated by slight increases in those of sugar and dairy, the FAO said.
Food prices surged after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year on fears of disruptions to Black Sea trade. They have pared gains in part because of a UN-backed grain export channel from Ukraine.
The FAO said last year that food import costs in 2022 would lead the poorest countries to cut back on shipped volumes.
Its food price index comprises the average of its meat, dairy, cereals, vegetable oils and sugar price indices, weighted to the average export shares of each of the groups for 2014-2016, it said.