Sept. 6 - The United Nation's food agency has said world food prices stabilized in August, for the moment avoiding a food crisis, but warned global grain stocks had fallen to an historic low following droughts, particularly one in the U.S. Sonia Legg reports.
No crisis yet. That's the verdict from the Food and Agriculture Organisation - which monitors the price of cereals, oilseeds and sugar, along with meat and dairy. Prices stabilised in August leaving them just below those of 2008 when there was a crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANISATION DIRECTOR DAVID HALLAM SAYING: "There is a risk of more price increases but at the moment there is not evidence to suggest that that is an inevitability." Poor crops from the Black Sea bread basket are partly to blame for record grain prices. But it's the United States which has been the biggest cause for concern. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANISATION DIRECTOR DAVID HALLAM SAYING: "The very sharp reduction in U.S. production because of the drought, the worst drought for fifty years we are told, has had a major impact on both stock levels and on prices. The overall global stock-to-use ratio has fallen to a historic low of just over 13 percent and in the U.S. it is significantly lower than that." The FAO has, as a result, cut its 2012 world cereals forecast by 4 percent. Globally, they say, there won't be enough grain to meet demand this season - and stocks will have to make up the deficit. G20 nations discussed the issue last week. But they put off any action until September's crop report - August's stabilisation has given a little cause for optimism but not much. Sonia Legg, Reuters