World Economy
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Global Food Prices

Food prices are a critical aspect of the global food system, as they impact everyone from producers and distributors to consumers and policymakers. Fluctuations in food prices can have significant economic and social consequences, affecting the availability and affordability of food around the world.

The FAO Food Price Index, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is a key barometer of the world food market, tracking changes in global food prices over time. The index is set to 100 for the years 2014-2016, meaning that the average price level for the basket of food commodities in those three years is used as the reference point or base period.

Subsequent values of the index represent the percentage change in the average price level compared to the base period. For example, if the index value is 120, it means that the average price level for the basket of food commodities in that year is 20% higher than the average price level in the base period (2014-2016).

The FAO Food Price Index comprises five major commodity groups: cereals, vegetable oils, dairy, meat, and sugar. These commodity groups are tracked by their own sub-indices:

  • FAO Cereal Price Index: This sub-index tracks changes in the prices of wheat, maize, rice, barley, and other cereal crops, which are some of the most important staple foods for people around the world.
  • FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index: This sub-index monitors price trends for major vegetable oils, such as palm oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil, which are widely used in food production and are important sources of fat and calories in many diets.
  • FAO Dairy Price Index: This sub-index tracks changes in the prices of dairy products, including milk, cheese, and butter, which are important sources of protein, fat, and other nutrients in many diets.
  • FAO Meat Price Index: This sub-index monitors price trends for different types of meat, including beef, pork, and poultry, which are important sources of protein in many diets and are widely consumed around the world.
  • FAO Sugar Price Index: This sub-index tracks changes in the prices of raw sugar and white sugar, which are important sources of calories and sweetness in many diets.

Latest trends

In March 2024, the FAO Food Price Index stood at an average of 118.3 points, an increase from 117.0 points in February 2024. The index as been on a declining trend since early 2022, and with the increase in March the first in seven months. Still, the index was down almost 8% compared to March 2023.

A closer look at the sub-indices shows that the increase in March was driven predominantly by surges in vegetable oil, dairy, and meat price indices. Sugar prices have seen a decline in compared to the peak levels seen in autumn of 2023. Cereal prices have declined steadily and in March stood at the lowest level since 2020. More details of the key drivers behind recent trends can be found in the latest FAO press release.

Below are separate charts for each of the five sub-indicies detailing their development over the past five years:

About the data

The data used on this page is sourced from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Changelog

  • Updated with FAO data for March 2024 released on the 5 April 2024.

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