Food prices fall from record highs, says UN food agency

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A wrecked train sitting on the ground amid tsunami rubble in Japan
Image caption,
The disaster in Japan cut demand for grain, the UN's FAO said

Global food prices fell in March after eight months of rising to record highs, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Its index of global food prices, which measures monthly changes for foods including cereals, meat and sugar, averaged 229.8 points in March, down from February's record of 236.8 points.

Unrest in the Middle East and the natural disaster in Japan dented demand for grain, depressing the price.

The UN warned the fall could be a blip.

A top official at the agency told the Reuters news agency that global food prices were expected to begin rising again soon as demand begins to bounce back.

Concepcion Calpe, senior economist at the UN's FAO, said: "We believe that in the next few weeks, and there are already signs of it, prices will rebound."

Grain imports have been disrupted for key customers in areas such as North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Japan.

Grain is not just used for food, but for livestock feed and biofuels, and demand for all three is rising globally.

Soaring oil prices also push food prices higher as they increase the cost of food products and boost demand for biofuels further.

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