The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says consumers are not yet feeling the benefits of lower food prices. The FAO says global food prices fell for the fifth consecutive month in August.

Falling world food prices generally reflect better global availability. However, according to the FAO, this time the drop in wholesale prices did not lead to better access to food or lower prices for consumers.

Director of FAO’s Markets and Trade Division, Boubaker Ben-Belhassen, said availability has improved, but access to food has not. This, despite falling prices five months in a row.

“This is due to several factors, including the persistently high cost of processing and transportation, logistics and also the exchange rate of countries’ currencies against the US dollar,” he said. “Additionally, the cost of living crisis has affected access. That’s why we haven’t seen that lower prices at the global level translate into lower prices for consumers or at the retail level.

Ben-Belhassen warned that a drop in world prices does not necessarily lead to market stability. He said this is subject to the uncertainties and volatility surrounding the evolution of the energy market and the price of fertilizers.

He said high prices for continuous energy and gas were reducing profitability and increasing production costs for farmers. He added that this will pose a serious challenge for farmers in the coming year.

He noted that the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative, allowing Ukraine to export its grain and other foodstuffs, has improved the availability of food on the world market. Prior to the July deal, Russia blocked Ukraine’s three key ports, triggering a global food crisis.

Ben-Belhassen said better food availability globally has not translated into better access at the consumer level. He said increased shipments of goods from Ukraine have not alleviated food shortages in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries. He noted that this is because most grain exports go to middle-income countries.

“So it’s not really going to the countries that are most affected or most in need of better domestic supply,” he said. “We hope the situation will improve over time. We hope that the cargo will also go to these countries… We are still concerned about access, about the crisis in the cost of living.

The FAO official says families in low- and middle-income countries tend to spend 50-60% of their monthly income on food. He warned that the implications for food security could be very serious if consumer food prices do not drop significantly.