Food prices

Falling palm oil prices in Southeast Asia, increased soybean crushing for oil in South America and rising dairy supplies contributed to an ease in global food prices. Above, Japanese shoppers compare produce prices in Tokyo last week. (Kimimasa Mayama / EPA / June 5, 2014)

Global food prices fell for the second consecutive month in May as the cost of dairy, cereals and vegetable oils declined, according to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization.

An index of international food prices fell 1.2% to 207.8 points in May, down from 210.3 points in April and a 10-month high of 213 points in March, the agency said Thursday in an online report.

The decline was mostly due to a drop in corn prices on favorable growing conditions and good supply prospects in 2014-15, the Rome-based group said in its report. "Wheat prices, which had firmed at the start of the month on slow spring planting in the United States and tensions in Ukraine, declined during the second half of the month, with weather conditions improving in the United States and shipments from Ukraine continuing normally,” the report said.

Falling palm oil prices in Southeast Asia, increased soybean crushing for oil in South America and rising dairy supplies also contributed to the price ease, the report said.

While food prices may be falling as a whole worldwide, they remain strong in the U.S. because of diminished cattle herds, a spreading hog virus, drought and an unseasonably cold winter weather.

Meat prices rose 8.4% in April, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s producer price index.