The headline number in September’s United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s world food price index showed virtually no change from the August reading.

However, digging into the subcomponents of the index, it is clear that last month was another disappointing one for global commodities of Irish interest.

Dairy prices dropped 2.3% from the previous month and were 23.9% below the level seen a year ago, while meat prices were 1% lower than August’s levels. There was some small relief for cereal growers with prices gaining 1% on the month, while being 14.6% below the level of September 2022.

It was sugar prices, which surged 10% from August, that stopped a much bigger drop in the overall index.

For Dairy, the index level is at the lowest point since late 2020. Despite this, it is not entirely doom and gloom for the sector, with most recent global dairy trade numbers showing something of a rebound.

New Zealand’s Fonterra raised its farmgate price forecast for the coming season – New Zealand production peaks in the coming months – as it sees reduced output from the country’s farmers and some signs of a return of Chinese demand.

Those demand forecasts remain very tentative, with the co-operative saying “it is not yet clear whether the stronger demand from China will be sustained” adding that customers remain very cautious in other key regions.

Fonterra also said that the El Niño weather event could hurt supplies during the coming season.