World food prices rise 1.1 percent in March: U.N. FAO

ROME (Reuters) - World food prices rose in March from the month before, driven by increases in grains and dairy costs, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 172.8 points last month, up 1.1 percent from February.

From a year earlier, food prices on international markets rose 0.7 percent in March, FAO said.

"Declines in price quotations for sugar and most vegetable oils were more than offset by increases for maize, wheat and most dairy products," FAO said in a statement.

FAO said global cereals output in 2017 was 2.646 billion tons, up 33 million tons from 2016, but it expected maize and wheat production to decline in 2018 based on early forecasts.

The agency predicted wheat output of 750 million tons for 2018, about 1 percent lower than the near-record 2017 level.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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