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World food prices surge in November, lifted by meat, vegetable oils- U.N. FAO

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By Reuters
World food prices surge in November, lifted by meat, vegetable oils- U.N. FAO
FILE PHOTO: A farmer winnows paddy crops at a field on the outskirts of Agartala, India, November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey/   -   Copyright  Jayanta Dey(Reuters)
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ROME (Reuters) – World food prices rose strongly in November, lifted by big jumps in prices of meat and vegetable oils, despite slightly lower cereals prices, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar hit a 26-month high in November, averaging 177.2 points, up 2.7% on the previous month and up 9.5% year-on-year.

FAO also predicted that cereal production would reach an all-time high of 2.714 billion tonnes in 2019, up 0.4% from its last forecast.

The cereal price index fell 1.2% to 162.4 points, with large export supplies and strong competition among world producers weighing on wheat prices. Rice prices fell to six-month lows as new crop arrivals added pressure.

The vegetable oil price index rose 10.4% to 150.6 points, reaching its highest point since May 2018, led by firmer palm oil prices, which strengthened on robust import demand, increased biodiesel use and concerns over possible supply shortages.

The meat price index registered its largest month-on-moth increase since May 2009, rising 4.6 percent from October to 190.5 points, with beef and sheep meat rising most strongly, lifted by demand from China and year-end holiday demand.

The sugar price index averaged 181.6 points, up 1.8% percent from October, led by expectations of higher demand.

The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 192.6 points, only marginally up from October, after two months of declines.

The agency raised its forecast for global cereal production in 2019 by 0.4%, estimating world cereal output at 2.714 billion tonnes, compared with 2018 levels.

Wheat output was seen up 4.8% at 766.4 million tonnes.

Global rice production was seen at 515 million tonnes, up 1.6 million tonnes from the previous forecast, implying a 0.5 percent fall from the 2018 all-time high, the agency said.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie)