(BN) World Food Prices Rise to Record on Sugar, Meat Costs (Update1)


World Food Prices Rise to Record on Sugar, Meat Costs (Update1)
2011-01-05 09:57:50.319 GMT

(Adds economist's comment in fourth paragraph, sugar and
cereal indexes starting in fifth.)

By Rudy Ruitenberg
Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- World food prices rose to a record in
December on higher sugar and meat costs, the United Nations
said, exceeding levels reached in 2008 that sparked deadly riots
from Haiti to Egypt.
An index of 55 food commodities maintained by the Food and
Agriculture Organization climbed for a sixth month to 214.7
points, above the previous all-time high of 213.5 set in June
2008, according to a monthly report posted on the Rome-based UN
agency's website today. The gauges for sugar and meat prices
advanced to records.
Sugar climbed for a third year in a row in 2010, and corn
jumped the most in four years in Chicago. Food prices may gain
further unless global grain production rises "significantly"
in 2011, the FAO said Nov. 17. At least 13 people died last year
in Mozambique in protests against planned increases in bread and
water prices.
"There is still, unfortunately, the potential for grain
prices to strengthen on the back of a lot of uncertainty,"
Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the FAO, said by phone
today. "If anything goes wrong with the South American crop,
there is plenty of room for them to increase further."

Cereals, Cooking Oils

The FAO's food-price indicator climbed from 206 points in
November. Its gauge for sugar prices reached 398.4 points last
month, increasing from 373.4 in November. The meat-price index
rose to 142.2 points from 141.5.
The agency's cereal-price index jumped to 237.6 points in
December, the highest level since August 2008, from 223.3 the
previous month. The indicator for cooking oils advanced to 263
points, the highest since July 2008, from 243.3. The index for
dairy prices rose to 208.4 points from 207.8.
Global grain output will have to rise at least 2 percent
this year to meet demand in 2011-2012 and avoid further
depletion of stocks, the UN agency has said. Concern about dry
weather in Argentina helped corn prices to jump 52 percent in
Chicago last year.
The basis for the FAO index is 2002-04. The gauge includes
commodity quotations that the agency considers representative
for international food prices.

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--Editors: Dan Weeks, Nicholas Larkin.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at +33-1-5365-5039 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Claudia Carpenter at +44-20-7330-7304 or