World Bank reports continued decline in food prices

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 (PNA/Xinhua)– Global food prices continued to decline between October 2013 and January 2014, as crop harvests and a few favorable factors continued to push down prices, the World Bank said in a report Thursday.

In its quarterly Food Price Watch report, the World Bank said the global food price index dropped by 3 percent from October 2013 and January 2014. It was 11 percent lower than a year ago and 18 percent below the all-time high in August 2012.

The overall decline of food prices is mainly driven by record harvests in wheat, maize and rice, which increased availability of supplies, and stronger global stocks, said the report.

The prices of internationally traded grains dropped 5 percent during the above mentioned period. However, prices within grains followed mixed trends. International prices for maize, wheat and sugar dropped by 2 percent, 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively, while prices for rice increased by 3 percent.

The World Bank cautioned despite steady declines, prices of internationally traded food “remain not overly far from their historical peak.”

“Pressures on food prices are expected to weaken in the short term, with normal trends of crop conditions anticipated in the coming months. However, weather concerns in Argentina, Australia, and parts of China, higher oil price, and the anticipated release of rice stockpiles in Thailand need continued careful monitoring,” said the report.

The report also noted that the world loses or wastes about one- quarter to one-third of the food it produces for consumption, causing huge economic, energy, and natural resource inefficiencies. “Potential solutions to prevent food loss and waste include changing agricultural production techniques, making large investments in transport and storage infrastructure, and changing consumer and commercial behavior.”(PNA/Xinhua)