Food prices hit highs as oil rises

Saturday, March 5, 2011
By Paul Martin

News.com.au
March 04, 2011

WORLD food prices have hit new records and oil price spikes could push them even higher, the UN food agency warned as unrest in the Middle East and North Africa hits markets.

The Food Price Index, which monitors average monthly price changes for a variety of key staples, rose to 236 points in February from 231 points in January, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

It was the highest level since FAO began monitoring prices in 1990.

“Unexpected oil price spikes could further exacerbate an already precarious situation in food markets,” David Hallam, director of the Rome-based FAO’s trade and market division, said.

“This adds even more uncertainty concerning the price outlook just as plantings for crops in some of the major growing regions are about to start.”

Crude prices pushed higher Thursday amid fighting in oil-rich Libya. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude oil for April delivery, rose to $102.56 and Brent North Sea crude for April was up at $116.65.

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