Global food prices hold steady in January: UN agency

Global food prices held steady in January after three straight months of decline, with increased prices for cooking oils balancing out lower grain and sugar prices, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday.

The FAO said its Food Price Index remained at 209.8 in January, unchanged from December, and down slightly from 212.8 in January 2012.

"The pause in the Index's decline tallies with a significant upward revision in FAO's latest forecast for 2012 world cereal production," the FAO said in a statement.

"This is now estimated at 2,302 million tonnes - 20 million tonnes up on December's forecast," it said.

According to the index, a monthly measure of changes in a basket of food commodities, price of oils and fats prices, offsetting lower cereals and sugar prices -- while dairy and meat prices remained largely unchanged.

In January, the FAO oils index averaged 205 points (up 4.4 percent on December), while the dairy index averaged 198 points, up slightly on an month earlier.

The cereals index dropped 1.1 percent to 247 points in January.

The sugar index averaged 268 points, down 2.2 percent on December, while the meat index averaged 176 points, marginally down on the previous month, the FAO said.