ROME – Although global food prices decreased three points, or 1.4 percent, from March to April 2012, they seem to have stabilized at a relatively high level of 214 points, as measured by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Food Price Index. This decrease was the first after three consecutive months of increases.

While the index is down significantly from its record level of 235 points tallied in April 2011, it is still well above the figures of under 200 which preceded the 2008 food crisis, FAO relayed.

Published in the latest FAO Food Outlook, a global market analysis which comes out twice a year, the index noted the prospects for the second half of this year and into the next indicate generally improved supplies and continuing strong demand. As a result, the global food import bill in 2012 could decline to $1.24 trillion, down slightly from last year’s record of $1.29 trillion the FAO Food Outlook said.

Driven exclusively by gains in poultry and pork production, global meat output in 2012 is set to expand by approximately 2 percent to 302 million tonnes. Most of the sector growth may likely originate in developing countries. During the year, an ongoing struggle for markets is expected to intensify as increased production in key importing countries slows down global meat trade expansion. Combined with limited supplies in developed exporting countries, this is shifting international market shares towards developing countries, Brazil and India, in particular.

The forecast for cereals production was for a modest expansion in 2012 to a new record of 2.37 million tonnes compared to 2.34 million tonnes in 2011.

Sustained fish and fishery products demand is boosting aquaculture production globally and pushing prices higher, despite some consumer resistance in the more traditional markets in southern Europe. Total production for the year is expected to increase by 2.1 percent to 157.3 million tonnes.