Global food prices in May fell to their lowest since September 2009 with declines in cereals, dairy and meat products outweighing slight increases in oils and sugar, the United Nations' food agency said today. 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation's food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oil seeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 166.8 points in May.

This was down 2.4 points or 1.4% from April, while it was down 46 points or 22.4% from a year earlier. 

High global production, a strong US dollar and cheaper crude oil have pressured food prices over the past year, with the index declining since April 2014. 

Oil and sugar prices bucked the trend. Palm oil rose on concerns about the possible effects of the El Nino weather pattern in Southeast Asia, and soy oil firmed on higher demand, particularly in China, the FAO said. 

Sugar posted its first significant rebound since October, it added, due to a slow start to the crushing season in Brazil. 

The FAO forecast world cereal production would hit 2.524 billion tonnes in 2015-16, compared with the previous year's record harvest. In April, the FAO forecast annual output of 2.509 billion tonnes. 

The higher cereal forecast is mainly due to larger than expected harvests in Africa and North America, but 2015-16 output is still expected to be 1% lower than the previous year. 

Cereals stocks at the end of the 2015-16 season are forecast to reach 634.3 million tonnes, compared with 646.5 milliontonnes in 2014-15. 

World wheat output is expected to reach 723.4 million tonnes, more than April's forecast of 719.1 million tonnes.