Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 15:42 UK

Global food prices fall in April

A worker collects wheat on the outskirts of Islamabad
This year's wheat crop is looking better than last year's

World food prices fell in April for the first time in 15 months, according to figures from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Its food price index fell to 216.7 from 217.0 in March, having surged from last April's figure of 141.7.

The FAO said it was important to be cautious about the figure, but that it was time to be a little bit optimistic.

But other analysts warned that many of the factors that have boosted food prices had not gone away.

'Bit optimistic'

"Since the beginning of May, there have been some positive signs, especially coming from the wheat crop prospects, which are very good," Abdolreza Abbassian from the FAO told the BBC.

"Overall, I think as time goes on, we are getting a little bit optimistic," he added.

But Joel Segal from Ernst & Young did not see a let-up in prices.

"It is dangerous to look at just one month, especially when the underlying factors remain the same," he said.

Mr Segal pointed to factors such as population growth still outstripping food production, increased affluence pushing up meat consumption, and the use of grain for biofuels.

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