ROME – In June, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) food price index increased 1 percent to 234 points, which is 39 percent higher than in June 2010 but 4 percent below its all-time high of 238 points in February 2011. A hefty increase in international sugar prices fueled much of the increase.

The FAO meat price index averaged 180, marginally up from May with poultry meat increasing 3 percent and climbing to a new record, while pig meat prices declined somewhat. The FAO cereal price index averaged 259 points in June, down one percent from May but 71 percent higher than in June 2010. Improved weather conditions in Europe and the announced lifting of the Russian Federation's export ban contributed to the price drop. The maize market remained tight because of low 2010 supplies and continued wet conditions in the US. Rice prices were mostly up in June, reflecting strong import demand and uncertainty over export prices in Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter.

From May to June, the FAO sugar price index increased 14 percent reaching 359 points, 15 percent below its January record. Production in Brazil, the world's biggest sugar producer, is forecast to fall below last year's level. The FAO dairy price Index averaged 232 points in June, virtually unchanged from 231 points in May.

Following two consecutive revisions to the US crops and planting prospects for 2011, FAO's latest forecast for world cereal production in 2011/2012 stands at nearly 2 313 million tonnes, 3.3 percent higher than last year and 11 million tonnes above FAO's last forecast on 22 June. World cereal utilization in 2011/2012 is forecast to grow 1.4 percent from 2010/2011, reaching 2 307 million tonnes, just five million tonnes under forecast production.

World cereal stocks at the close of the crop season in 2012 are now expected to stand six million tonnes above their opening levels. While wheat and rice inventories are expected to become more comfortable, coarse grains stocks, especially maize, would remain tight.