ROME - Following three months of stability, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) monthly Food Price Index (FPI) slipped in December despite the meat sub-index rising to an all-time high annual average of 199 points, up 8.1 percent from 2013.
The FAO Meat Price Index declined 1.9 percent in December from November, as a stronger US dollar curbed price quotations for beef and mutton from Oceania and pork from Europe. However, this index topping out at 204 points, is close to its monthly all-time highs. On a full-year basis, it increased 8.1 percent in 2014 from 2013 and was the only commodity group to post higher average prices over the year.
December’s FPI averaged 188.6 points, down 1.7 percent from November -- led by sugar and palm oil. For the entire last year, the FPI averaged 202 points, down 3.7 percent from 2013, marking the third-consecutive annual decline. Cereals dropped 12.5 percent from the previous year, buoyed by forecasts of record production and ample inventories.
Continuing large supplies and record stocks, combined with a stronger US dollar and falling oil prices, contributed to the decline. The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 183.9 points in December, up 0.4 percent from November; the Vegetable Oil Price Index average declined by 2.4 percent to a five-year low of 161 points in December; the FAO Dairy Price Index slipped 2.3 percent to 174 points, its lowest level since late 2009; while the FAO Sugar Price Index dropped 4.8 percent to 219 points in December.

The FPI is a trade-weighted index that tracks prices of five major food commodity groups on international markets: meat, cereals, dairy products, vegetable oils and sugar. Four of those indices fell in 2014 and are at, or close to, their lowest levels in five years.