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FAO sees global food markets stabilizing on growing harvests

Global food prices have overcome a long period of extreme volatility, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported. Bumper cereal harvests in the United States and Russia have stabilized food markets.

FAO's Food Price Index came in at 205.5 points in October, which was 5.3 percent lower than the value it posted in October 2012, the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported Thursday.

The decline in global food prices was due to improved supplies and a recovery in global inventories of cereals, the Rome-based organization said.

"This relates to production increases and the expectation that, in the current season, we will have more abundant supplies, more export availabilities and higher stocks," FAO Director of Trade and Markets said in a statement.

Global food prices peaked last year after main cereals exporters such as the United States and several countries in the former Soviet Union had reported bad harvests. In addition, rising demand for so-called fuel crops caused prizes for commodities such as maize, for example, to skyrocket.

FAO also said that falling food prices this year were caused by stronger maize production in the US and record wheat harvests in post-Soviet Union countries. Bumper harvests in the two regions would lead to a 13-percent increase in world cereals stocks by the end of 2014, reaching a total of 564 million metric tons.

Declining prices in 2013 were also expected for sugar, vegetable oils and tropical beverages, while meat, fish and dairy prices remained stable, the FAO reported.

As a result, global costs for food imports this year were projected to decline by 3 percent.

uhe/rc (dpa, AFP)