Global Price Watch: December 2017 Prices (January 31, 2018)
In West Africa, regional staple food production for the 2017/18 marketing year is projected to be above average, increasing for the fourth consecutive year. Locally-produced grain prices declined seasonally in December as post-harvest sales and trade flows intensified. Staple food prices remained above average across much of the region. Below average pastoral conditions continue to influence livestock markets in many areas. Market anomalies remain largely concentrated in the eastern marketing basin.
In East Africa, markets remain severely disrupted by insecurity and significant macro-economic issues in Yemen and South Sudan, impeding staple food supply access and putting upward pressure on prices. Although the port blockade in Yemen ceased, and fuel became more available in South Sudan following unofficial removal of price regulations, these changes have not resulted in significant market improvements. Staple food prices increased atypically in Sudan during the harvest due to deteriorating economic conditions. Ongoing harvests in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda supplied markets and kept prices seasonally stable or declining.
In Southern Africa, maize availability is average to above average following recent above average regional harvests. After reaching very high levels in 2016, maize prices were atypically stable and at or below average levels across much of the region in December. Maize grain is generally able to circulate between surplus and deficit areas without major trade restrictions within the region. Export parity prices are competitive, encouraging exports to East Africa (from Zambia, South Africa, and Malawi) and international markets (from South Africa).
In Central America, maize and bean prices were generally seasonally stable and availability remained high with supplies from the recent average to above-average Primera harvest and the start of the Postrera harvest. While maize prices remain below average across the region, bean prices were near or above average. In Haiti, ample market supply led to a marginal decrease in staple food prices. The exception was local maize for which prices tightened due to lower than expected supply from the Hiver harvest. Imported rice prices fell for the first time in three months while the Haitian gourde was stable against USD.
Central Asia sustained adequate supplies and intra-regional trade is expected to fill regional wheat deficits. Wheat prices remained stable though are below-average in the region’s largest exporter, Kazakhstan and above-average in Tajikistan.
International staple food markets remain well supplied. Rice prices rose marginally, maize prices were mixed, wheat prices eased while soybean prices were firm. Crude oil prices were firm in December and were at their highest since December 2014.