Food prices up 39% in 2011, head back towards record highs

Fears of poor sugar harvest drive UN food price index to within 1.6% of February record

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Tom Bawden

Hard-pressed consumers face higher grocery bills after new figures showed that food prices jumped by 1.3% in June to within a whisker of their record high.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) food price index increased by 3 points to 234 points last month – a 39% increase on the year – as concerns about weak Brazilian sugar production sent sugar prices soaring by 14%, outweighing a decline in cereal costs.

As analysts at Goldman Sachs predicted that commodity prices would continue rising into next year, the average food price is now only 1.6% below February’s record, when the FAO’s basket of 55 food commodities reached 238 points.

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