The FAO food price index measures the change in price for a global basket of 70 internationally traded food commodities and, according to its latest figures, meat prices were up 21.7 points, or 11.6%, compared to September last year.
“High meat prices and large trade volumes for products in the animal protein category, including meat, dairy and fish, mean that the global food import bill — that is, the aggregate amount that all countries spend on imported foodstuffs — will surpass $1 trillion again this year, for the fifth year in a row,” the FAO said.
It forecasts meat production to increase only moderately in the year ahead, suggesting that higher prices are likely to remain the norm for some time yet.
Although at record highs, an increase in the meat price index of just 0.3 points in September compared to August may suggest that meat prices are stabilising, the FAO said.
“The lack of an increase this month may indicate that, overall, they have reached a peak,” it said.
According to the Food Outlook report, most production expansion is likely in developing countries, which are also the main centres of rising demand.
“At the international level, [meat] prices have remained high by historical standards for the past three years, with the FAO Meat Price Index generally oscillating around 185 points,” it said. In September, it reached 207.8 points.
However, while meat prices were up sharply over the past year, abundant harvests and stockpiles mean prices for most commodities have declined. Indeed, the index fell 2.6% in September, registering its sixth consecutive monthly drop last month, which the FAO says is “the longest period of continuous decline since the late 1990s”. Itaveraged 191.5 points in September – a long way off 2011’s peak of 230.1.