World Food Crisis Concept With The World Map Drawn On A Plate With Grain

The overall global price of foods rose 0.6 percent in April, the first time in a year that the price failed to decline, according to the U.N. World Food Price Index.

The rising price of sugar overwhelmed falling costs of dairy products,  grains, and vegetable oils.

Meat also became more costly due to bird flu outbreaks that killed poultry. Rising costs of pork production limited supplies.

Sugar prices rose as bad weather and limited supplies of fertilizer shrank harvests. An impending El Niño is likely to reduce harvests further, Bloomberg reported.

The U.N.’s index has fallen about 20 percent from a record high last spring after Russia’s attack on Ukraine crashed Ukraine’s grain exports. 

Now the new rise in sugar, a global staple ingredient, could send overall food prices back up, even as prices remain near historic highs in many parts of the world due, in part, to continued shortages wrought by the war and Western sanctions on Russian exports.

“Growing conditions for Northern Hemisphere crops and talks over extending a crucial Black Sea crop corridor will be key to where prices head,” Bloomberg noted.

A deal to allow grain to travel through the Black Sea was set last July and allowed Ukraine to boost exports of corn, sunflower oil, and wheat. 

However, Russia has threatened to end the agreement this month if blockades on its own exports of fertilizer and grains go unresolved.

TREND FORECAST: Food prices are likely to continue to decline in the short term. Whether they stabilize at those levels or rise again depends on weather in key countries and the Ukraine war.

Drought has eased in the western U.S. but is expected to lop 28 percent from South America’s food exports this year, according to the World Meteorological Association.

Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine will cut around 31 percent from Ukraine’s grain harvest this year, the International Monetary Fund has predicted.

Those factors together indicate continued upward pressure on food prices into next year. And even if prices do come down, they will still be very high.

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