A worker walks past stacks of rice at a warehouse owned by Indonesia's state procurement agency Bulog in Makassar of Indonesia's South Sulawesi province March 15, 2012.
Global food prices rose in March for a third successive month, driven by gains in grains and vegetable oils, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said on Thursday, putting food inflation firmly back on the economic agenda.
Food prices hit record highs in February 2011 and stoked protests connected to the Arab Spring wave of civil unrest in some north African and middle eastern countries. They then receded but started to grow again in January.
The index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 215.9 points in March, up from a revised 215.4 points in February, FAO data showed.
Its Cereal Price Index averaged 227 points in March, up from February, with maize prices showing gains, supported by low inventories and a strong soybean market, the FAO said.
"You can see prices in the near term rising even further," FAO's senior economist and grain analyst Abdolreza Abbassian told Reuters before the index update.
The FAO also confirmed its earlier forecast for world wheat output to fall 1.4 percent from last year's record crop to 690 million metric tons (760.59 million tons) in 2012.
High oil prices have fanned inflationary concerns since the start of this year. Consumer prices in the 17 nations sharing the euro were up 2.6 percent in March from a year ago, despite the region's stumbling economy.