World food prices dipped month-on-month in November but remained at high levels with further scope to rise due to future supply concerns, the United Nations' food agency said on Thursday.
Global food prices measured by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) hit a peak in February but have been falling since June as crops improved and concerns about global economic slowdown reined in demand growth.
The index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged at 215 points in November, 10 percent below its peak in February but remained one percent above the November 2010 level, the FAO said in a statement.
"It is more stabilising at high levels than a downturn ... The upside risk is still there," Abbassian said in a telephone interview.
High food prices have helped fuel inflation and contributed to civil unrest and the Arab Spring earlier this year.
The European Central Bank cut interest rates by a quarter of a point on Thursday to counter the twin threats of recession and deflation in the euro zone, and is expected to unveil fresh measures to help banks hurt by the bloc's debt crisis.
The fall in November food prices was moderate with a 5 percent rise in vegetable oils cushioning a 6 percent fall in sugar. The prices of cereals, one of the main components of the FAO index, fell 1 percent from October, largely driven by a 3 percent fall in wheat prices.
GLOBAL GRAIN STOCKS IN FOCUS
Global grain stocks, beefed up after strong crops in Russia and some Asian countries, were at comfortable levels this season, Abbassian said.
A considerable increase in the global grain output would be needed next year if demand kept rising, he added.
The FAO has cut its 2011 world cereals output to 2.323 billion tonnes from a previous forecast of 2.325 billion tonnes due to reduced estimates of global rice and U.S. maize crops, but confirmed it was still a record and a 3.5 percent increase on 2010 output.