The world food price gauge – the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) – dropped in April from March’s record levels, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported.

Averaging 158.5 points in April, the FFPI was 1.2 points (O.8%) lower than the previous month, according to the 6 May report.

However, the FFPI was still 36.4 points (29.8%) above its value in April last year.

The drop in April was mainly due to a significant downturn in the vegetable oil prices, along with a slight decline in cereal prices, the report said, while sugar, meat and dairy prices increased moderately.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 237.5 points in April, dropping 14.3 points (5.7%) from the record high registered in March, although remained markedly above last year’s level.

The decline was driven by lower world prices of palm, sunflower and soya oils, which more than offset higher rapeseed oil quotations, the report said.

International palm oil prices dropped moderately in April, mainly due to subdued global imports amid high costs and a weakening demand outlook in China.

However, uncertainties about exports from Indonesia, the world’s leading palm oil exporter, had contained further declines in international prices, the report said.

Meanwhile, global sunflower and soya oil prices also fell month-on-month, mainly due to demand-rationing following recent record high prices while, in contrast, rapeseed oil prices remained firm in April, held up by ongoing global supply tightness.

The FFPI tracks international prices of a basket of commonly-traded commodities, while the FAO's vegetable oil price index illustrates the changes in international prices of the 10 most important vegetable oils in world trade, weighted according to their export shares.