Food prices around the world surged to a new historic peak in January, he UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported Thursday, adding that the prices are not likely to decline in the months ahead. According to the FAO, its latest Food Price Index, a commodity basket that tracks monthly changes in global food prices, averaged 231 points in January and was up 3.4% from December last year - the highest level since the agency started measuring food prices in 1990. It added that prices of all monitored commodity groups surged in January, except the cost of meat, which remained unchanged.
“The new figures clearly show that the upward pressure on world food prices is not abating. These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come”, said Abdolreza Abbassian, a Rome-based FAO economist and grains expert. “High food prices are of major concern especially for low-income food deficit countries that may face problems in financing food imports and for poor households which spend a large share of their income on food”.
Abbasian added that the “only encouraging factor so far” stems from a number of countries where good harvests helped domestic prices of some of the food staples remain low compared to world prices. Late last year, the FAO warned that international food import bills could pass the one trillion dollar mark in 2010 with prices in most commodities up sharply from 2009. It also warned the international community to prepare for harder times ahead unless production of major food crops increases significantly in 2011.