World food prices unchanged at high levels in August: FAO


World food prices were unchanged in August at levels close to those reached during the food crisis in 2008, the United Nations food agency said.

The worst U.S. drought in more than half a century and poor crops from the Black Sea bread basket have pushed grain prices to record peaks, raising alarm over a potential repeat of the crisis in 2008 that sparked riots around the world.

FAO said this week that swift international action could still prevent a catastrophe, and has urged countries to consider adjusting biofuel mandates while also warning against panic buying and restrictions on exports, Reuters reports.

The FAO Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 213 points in August, unchanged from July, the FAO said in its monthly update.

The Rome-based agency said it had cut its 2012 world cereals output forecast by 4 percent to 2.295 billion tonnes from a previous estimate of 2.396 billion tonnes due to the worsening prospects caused by the severe U.S. drought.