World Food Prices Rose Most in 11 Months

Global food prices rose 1.9 percent in January, the biggest gain in 11 months as the cost of oilseeds, dairy and grains increased, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said.

An index of 55 food items climbed to 214.3 points from a restated 210.3 points in December, the Rome-based FAO said on its website today. All commodity groups in the index advanced, according to the UN agency.

Costlier food is driving up living costs in China, home to about a fifth of the world population. Chinese inflation unexpectedly accelerated in January on the back of food prices, which rose 10.5 percent last month compared with a year earlier, up from 9.1 percent in December, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics reported today.

“International prices of all major cereals with the exception of rice rose in January,” the FAO wrote. “Prices of all the commodity groups that compose the index registered gains, with oils increasing the most.”

Spot prices for U.S. soybeans at ports near New Orleans rose 1.2 percent last month following a 5.2 percent jump in December on concern dry and hot weather in Argentina and southern Brazil will reduce harvests there. U.S. Gulf corn spot prices rose 1.8 percent last month after advancing 4.5 percent in December.

The FAO’s cereal-price index climbed 2.3 percent to 222.7 points from 217.6 points a month earlier, the biggest gain for the gauge since April. Corn led the gains on concern about South American crop prospects, the UN agency wrote.

Edible Oils and Fats

The index of edible oils and fats rose 2.8 percent to 233.7 points, compared with 227.5 points in December. The sugar-price index tracked by the FAO climbed 2.3 percent to 334.3 points on “less than favorable” weather in Brazil, the biggest producer of the sweetener, the agency said.

The meat index rose less than 1 percent to 178.5 points from 177.6, as rising pigmeat prices more than made up for a decline in poultry costs. The dairy price gauge gained 2.5 percent to 206.8 points from 201.7 in December.

“Butter and cheese prices are behind this month’s strength, as prices of both skim and whole milk powder were steady or slightly down” the FAO wrote. “Relatively low stocks of dairy products in the U.S. along with supply tightness in Oceania have sustained prices in the past two months.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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