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World food prices up 3.9 percent in October

ROME - World food prices rose in October, spurred by weather-driven concerns about sugar and palm oil supplies, but remained well below their equivalent level a year ago, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

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A customer selects vegetables at a market Oct. 14 in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China. REUTERS/Stringer

ROME - World food prices rose in October, spurred by weather-driven concerns about sugar and palm oil supplies, but remained well below their equivalent level a year ago, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 162 points in October against 155.9 the month before.

The FAO said this was the sharpest increase since July 2012, although food on international markets in October was still 16 percent cheaper than a year earlier.

The FAO's sugar price index led the rise, jumping 17.2 percent from September because of fears of heavy rains in the main sugar-growing regions of Brazil, as well as concerns of drought in India and Thailand.

The vegetable oil price index rose 6.2 percent, partly on worries the El Nino weather phenomenon would hit Indonesian palm oil supplies in 2016.

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The FAO cut its forecast for world cereal output in 2015 to 2.530 billion tons- some 1.1 percent below last year's record - from a previous estimate of 2.534 billion tons given last month.

"Half of the forecast cut reflected dimmer expectations about maize crops in India and Ukraine, mostly due to adverse weather," the FAO said in a statement.

However, the U.N. body raised its world wheat output forecast for 2015/16 to 736.2 million tons from 734.8 million, saying this was mainly because of a bigger harvest in the European Union collected earlier than anticipated.

"World cereal stocks are expected to remain at a comfortable level, with global wheat inventories rising further, reaching their highest level in 15 years," the FAO said.

Related Topics: FOOD
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