Dairy and sugar prices have rocketed throughout 2009, according to December's "Food Outlook," published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

From a low of February 2009, November's dairy prices have jumped 80 percent. Sugar has also increased by 78 percent from the January figure, although the November price has fallen from the September 2009 peak.

World meat product prices have remained stable, whilst cereals have actually reduced in price throughout the year. Overall, prices are the highest they have been since September 2008 - the Food Price Index currently stands at 168, but before the price spike of 2007-2008, global food prices never exceeded the 120-point mark and were normally below 100.

However, the FAO remains broadly positive, stating that market conditions are different to those that led to the previous spike, most notably global cereal stock levels that were heavily hit throughout 2007-2008 due to crop failures in major exporting countries. Today, world cereal supplies are believed to be more adequate to respond to rising demand than they were two years ago.

"A healthy stock situation and good production prospects reduce the risk of a major price surge over the next six months, but FAO will be keeping a very close eye on developments," said Hafez Ghanem, FAO Assistant Director-General for Social and Economic Development.

The Food Price Index is a monthly compilation of international price figures covering key food commodities, released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

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