World food price index rises for the third month running

Unfavorable weather conditions in Thailand and the EU meant average sugar prices rose 6.7 percent from July, reflecting forecasts of a reduction in production. Strong import demand in China also helped to push prices higher. (AFP)
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Updated 04 September 2020

World food price index rises for the third month running

  • UN agency’s cereal measure rose 1.9 percent in August from month before and 7 percent above its value a year earlier

ROME: World food prices rose for a third month running in August, led by coarse grains, vegetable oils and sugar, the UN food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 96.1 points last month versus 94.3 in July.

The Rome-based FAO also said in a statement that worldwide cereal harvests remained on course to hit an annual record in 2020.

The agency’s cereal price index rose 1.9 percent in August from the month before and 7 percent above its value a year earlier.

Among the major cereals, sorghum, barley and rice prices rose the most, FAO said. 

Maize also climbed strongly, pushed up by concerns over US production prospects following recent crop damage in Iowa.

The vegetable oil price index climbed 5.9 percent month-on-month, returning to around the levels registered when the coronavirus crisis hit the world at the start of the year.

Palm oil was buoyed by expected output slowdowns in major producing countries, which, combined with firm global import demand, were expected to result in lower inventory levels.

Average sugar prices rose 6.7 percent from July, reflecting forecasts of a reduction in production due to unfavorable weather conditions in the EU and Thailand. Strong import demand in China also helped to push prices higher.

By contrast, the dairy index was little changed on the month, with falls in cheese and whole milk powder offset by stronger butter and skim milk quotations.

The meat index was also largely steady, with bovine and poultry prices in retreat while pig meat prices rose after four consecutive months of declines, as Chinese imports jumped.

FAO revised down its forecast for the 2020 cereal season by 25 million tons, largely due to expectations of a lower maize production in the US.

However, despite this reduction, the agency still expected a record harvest this year of almost 2.765 billion tons, up 3 percent on 2019 levels.

“Record maize harvests are forecast for Argentina and Brazil, while global sorghum production is expected to grow by 6 percent from the previous year. Worldwide rice production in 2020 is also expected to reach a new record of 509 million tons,” FAO said.

The forecast for world cereal use in 2020/21 hit 2.746 billion tons, up 2 percent on the 2019/20 level. The estimate for world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2021 was 895.5 million tons, down 33.4 million tons since July.


Dubai’s Al-Habtoor Group to open representative office in Israel

Updated 20 September 2020

Dubai’s Al-Habtoor Group to open representative office in Israel

  • Al-Habtoor and Fogel both welcomed the landmark agreement that was signed on Sept. 15 in the US
  • The tycoon revealed his plans to open a representative office in Israel

DUBAI: Dubai’s Al-Habtoor Group (AHG) plans to open a representative office in Israel its chairman said, following an historic peace deal signed last week between the UAE and Israel to normalize relations.

Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor, who is AHG founding chairman, welcomed Ampa Group’s co-owner, chairman and CEO Shlomi Fogel at the hospitality conglomerate’s Dubai headquarters. Ampa Group deals in real estate, finance and industry. 

Al-Habtoor and Fogel both welcomed the landmark agreement that was signed on Sept. 15 in the US. 

The UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords in a ceremony overseen by US President Donald Trump. The two Gulf countries join Egypt and Jordan as the only Arab nations to have full relations with Israel.

“I have been looking forward to this day for a very long time,” Al-Habtoor said. “I have always believed that Emiratis and Israelis have a lot in common. Both peoples are business-oriented and have relied on human talent and ambition more than their countries’ natural resources to build robust, innovative economies. The opportunities that this deal will present are great for both sides. I am confident this will open up new doors and lead to stronger economies, and closer cultural ties between the peoples.”

The tycoon revealed his plans to open a representative office in Israel and said that there was a lot of interest in collaboration.

“We have received a large number of inquiries for collaboration in several fields, ranging from AI and technology, to agriculture, hospitality and trading. The possibilities are endless for both sides in our diversified fields and new ones, and we want to be present to grasp them.”

He previously disclosed that AHG had started talks with Israeli domestic carrier Israir Airlines to open direct commercial flights, “and we are preparing to reveal a few collaborations in the coming days.”

Fogel said that peace would be cemented through successful business collaboration and trade. “Together with our Emirati counterparts we will show the way to live in peace to the rest of the world,” he added.

Fogel was accompanied at the meeting by Ampa Group executives, including Erez Katz and Saar Bracha.

AHG was represented at the meeting by Mohammed Al-Habtoor, Ahmad Al-Habtoor, Maan Halabi, Sanjeev Agarwala and other members of senior management.