The UN’s benchmark food and commodity prices index rose sharply on average through 2021, compared with the previous year. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the agency’s Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in international prices, averaged 125.7 points – a 28.1 percent increase over 2020. FAO Senior Economist Abdolreza Abbassian explained that, normally, high prices are expected to ease as production increases to match demand. This time, however, the consistently high cost of inputs, the ongoing global pandemic and ever more volatile climatic conditions “leave little room for optimism about a return to more stable market conditions even in 2022.” At the end of the year, world food prices fell slightly, as international prices for vegetable oils and sugar fell significantly, the data shows. The Food Price Index?averaged 133.7 points, a 0.9 percent decline from November, but was still up 23.1 per cent from the same month the year before. Only dairy posted a rise that month. The Cereal Price Index also decreased 0.6 per cent; for the full year, however, it reached its highest annual level since 2012, rising 27.2 per cent. Biggest gainers were maize, up 44.1 per cent, and wheat, gaining 31.3 per cent. One of the world’s other key staple foods, rice, lost 4 per cent.