World food prices jumped to a new record high in March as the war in Ukraine caused turmoil in markets for staples grains and edible oils, the UN food agency said on Friday.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) food price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month versus an upwardly revised 141.4 for February.
The February figure was previously put at 140.7, which was a record at the time.
Russia and Ukraine are both major exporters of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil via the Black Sea, and Moscow's six-week-old invasion of its neighbour has stalled Ukrainian exports.
FAO warned last month that food and feed prices could rise by up to 20% as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, triggering a jump in global malnourishment.
The agency also cut its estimate of world wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tonnes on Friday from a forecast of 790 million last month as it factored in the possibility that at least 20% of Ukraine's winter crop area would not be harvested.
It lowered its projection of global cereals trade in the 2021/22 marketing year as disruption to Black Sea exports were seen as only being partially offset by increased exports from India, the European Union, Argentina and the United States.
In its first outlook for the next crop season, the European Commission said that European Union wheat exports are expected to jump and maize imports plunge in 2022/23 as grain markets adjust to the war in Ukraine.