ROME — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said the F.A.O. Food Price Index stood at 216 points in September, up 1.4%, or 3 points, compared with 213 points in August.
The increase reflected stronger dairy and meat prices. Meanwhile, prices for sugar and oils declined.
The F.A.O. index is 22 points below its peak of 238 points in February 2011 and 9 points below 225 points in September 2011.
The F.A.O. Cereal Price Index was at 263 points in September, up 1%, or 3 points, from August as gains in wheat and rice offset declines in maize. The Meat Price Index averaged 175 points, up 2.1%, or 4 points, from August on strong gains in the pig and poultry sectors. The Dairy Price Index averaged 188 points, up 7%, or 12 points, from August, the sharpest monthly increase since January 2011.
After a record in 2011, the F.A.O. forecast a decline in global cereal production this year at 2,286 million tonnes, down from the 2,295 million tonnes estimated in September. This would be 2.6% below last year’s record crop but close to the second largest in 2008. The decrease is from a reduction in wheat and coarse grain production. This is expected to result in a reduction in world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2013.
The F.A.O. said the food security situation in East Africa has started to improve with the beginning of the harvest season with declining food prices improving livestock productivity as the result of enhanced rains. Nevertheless, 13.4 million people in the Horn of Africa need humanitarian assistance. A dry spell in Southern Africa caused a drop in overall cereal production in 2012. In East Asia, the cereal harvest is expected to exceed the record harvest in 2011. In West Asia, there are great concerns for food security due to the civil unrest in Syria and Yemen. The number of people in need of food assistance has increased to 1.5 million and could double before the end of the year if nothing improves. In Yemen, 10 million are in need of emergency food assistance.