FAO Food Price Index steady in February, palm oil rises

3 March 2016, Rome – The FAO Food Price Index was stable in February, as falling sugar and dairy prices offset a substantial jump in vegetable oil prices from the previous month.

Averaging 150.2 points for the month, the FAO Food Price Index was virtually unchanged from a revised 150.0 points in January and  down 14.5 percent from a year ago.

FAO also issued its first forecast for the world’s 2016 wheat harvest, projecting 723 million tonnes of total production, about 10 million tonnes below last year’s record output.

The FAO Food Price Index is a trade-weighted index tracking international market prices for five key commodity groups: major cereals, vegetable oils, dairy, meat and sugar.

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Diverging from February’s generally stable trend was a sharp increase in the FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index, which rose 8.0 percent from the previous month. That was led by a 13 percent surge in palm oil, which gained on reports of falling inventories and a poor production outlook in the near future. Soy oil prices also firmed as a result.

But other staple commodities more than absorbed that rise. The FAO Sugar Price Index declined 6.2 percent from January, buoyed by strong global inventories and improved crop conditions in Brazil, the world’s largest producer and exporter.

The FAO Dairy Price Index fell 2.1 percent on the month amid sluggish imports, especially by China.

Prices of the world’s staple grains were broadly stable. The FAO Cereal Price Index inched down only around half a percentage point from the previous month but was 13.7 percent lower than a year earlier. Wheat prices fell 1.5 percent, maize prices slipped only slightly, while rice prices rose modestly.

Meanwhile, the FAO Meat Price Index rose slightly, buoyed by supply constraints for beef from Australia and the U.S. as well as support for private storage of pig meat in the European Union. Poultry prices fell, reflecting lower feed costs.

Strong 2016 wheat harvests seen in China and South Asia

FAO’s latest Cereal Supply and Demand Brief forecasts a 1.4 percent drop in worldwide wheat output in 2016, due mainly to dry weather leading to reduced winter plantings in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. However, China and Pakistan are expected to sustain near-record wheat harvests, and India’s output is anticipated to recover.

FAO also trimmed its estimate of last year’s total cereal production to 2 525 million tonnes, reflecting updated wheat production estimates from India and revised output figure from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Estimates were also lowered for last year’s world output of coarse grains and rice due to developments in Asia. Combined world cereal production in 2015 is now seen at around 1.4 percent below the record level reached in 2014.

Global cereal stocks are likely to amount to 636 million tonnes by the close of seasons ending in 2016, nearly unchanged from their already high opening levels, but down 6.2 million tonnes from the previous month’s forecast. The revision mostly reflects reduced wheat inventory forecasts for the Islamic Republic of Iran and Uzbekistan, largely resulting from adjustments to historical stock numbers of both countries.

The world cereal stock-to-use ratio, a leading indicator of global world food security, still stands at a relatively high level of 24.7 percent.

FAO now expects world trade in cereals to decline by 2.0 percent in volume terms in 2015/16 from the previous season. That mostly reflects shrinking demand for wheat and barley, more than offsetting firmer demand for rice.

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Source: fao

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Soft drink industry :How Coca Cola’s Obesity PR Stunt Blew up in the Company’s Face

The soft drink industry is in a full-blown crisis. Soda sales are on a 10-year skid, and laws are being passed to tax and limit their sales, thanks to a growing consensus among health researchers that sugary beverages are the primary culprits behind obesity and related conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Coca Cola’s PR tactics have become increasingly desperate and insidious. A 2013 television commercial suggested that the 139 calories in a can of Coke could be burned by 75 seconds of laughing out loud, or a celebratory dance while bowling, claims that were roundly criticized at the time. It recently came out that Coke is using a similar tactic, but with a more serious, respectable veneer, when the New York Times reported the company’s undisclosed ties to the nonprofit astroturf group Global Energy Balance Network, a relationship that included lots of money, and even secretly registering the GEBNs website on its own domain.

This isn’t the first time makers of dangerous products have found ways to claim evidence against them is inconclusive, or have funded supposedly independent research programs that purport to search for the “real” roots of the problem. The tobacco industry stalled for years by using public information campaigns to create controversy over established facts about the dangers of smoking. The gun lobby borrowed these tactics to promote the idea that having lots of unregulated guns around keeps us safe, even as our rate of gun-related deaths ballooned compared to other countries.

Such tactics are sometimes referred to as “misdirection,” which in the case of the tobacco and gun lobbies has been defined as “[altering] the nature of the debate until it is winnable, or at least not loseable. In some instances stalemate will do. If new information arises that shows an existing position to be wrong, move on to another.”

The mission of the GEBN, per its website, is, “To connect and engage multi-disciplinary scientists and other experts around the globe dedicated to applying and advancing the science of energy balance to achieve healthier living.” The “science of energy balance” refers to the well-established fact that what you eat is only part of what determines your weight. The other part is how many calories you burn.

This message is particularly dangerous for the simple reason that it’s largely true, and on the surface it’s hard to find fault with a pro-exercise message. But the fact that gaps remain in our understanding of the relationship between diet, exercise and health does not mean we should alter the prevailing consensus about the dangers of soda. But that is what GEBN threatens to do; its message implies that if you do more exercise, you can enjoy more Coke.

But while exercise burns calories, it also increases appetite, which can lead to more eating, which can replace all of those burned calories. People who eat more sugar can become insulin-resistant, so their bodies make more insulin, which leads to more fat deposition. And foods that are high in fiber, like nuts, lead to less weight gain per calorie than foods with a similar amount of calories but less fiber, like, say, Coca Cola. While it is possible to outrun a bad diet, there is no question that it’s easier to manage your weight by focusing on what you eat. Much easier. But GEBN threatens to question this reality, just the same, by misdirecting the focus on obesity and related conditions away from diet and toward energy balance.

Source: organicconsumers

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