A sharp drop in international prices of vegetable oils has led the benchmark United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index to fall for the sixth consecutive month, according to the FAO’s latest report.

Driven by the drop in international vegetable oil prices, the index’s decline in September was also hit by moderate decreases in sugar, meat and dairy product prices, which more than offset an increase in cereal prices, the FAO said on 7 October.

The index, which tracks changes in the international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 136.3 points in September, down 1.5 points (1.1%) compared to August.

Despite the new decline, the index remained 7.2 points (5.5%) above its value in the same period last year.

Global vegetable oil prices dropped 6.6% in September compared to the previous month, marking the lowest level since February last year.

“The continued drop reflected lower prices across palm, soyabean, sunflower and rapeseed oils. In September, international palm oil prices declined for the sixth consecutive month, largely driven by lingering heavy inventories that coincided with seasonally rising production in southeast Asia,” the FAO said.

World soyabean oil prices dropped moderately following a short-lived rebound in August in response to an increase in export availability in Argentina, due to increased farmer sales.

International prices for sunflower oil declined to a 14-month low due to increased export supplies from the Black Sea region amid subdued import demand, the FAO said, while world rapeseed oil prices also dropped following forecasts of increased global production in the 2022/23 season.

Lower crude petroleum oil prices also contributed to the downward pressure on world vegetable oil prices, the report said.

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.