World food prices were at their third highest in 2013, with dairy and meat values hitting record levels, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Its food price index averaged 209.9 points for the year, a slight fall on 2012 levels, but well below the 2011 peak of 230.1.

“Last month, the FAO food price index remained elevated as strong demand for certain high-protein foods continued to drive up prices overall, countering falling prices of major food crops after last year’s abundant harvests,” said FAO economist Abdolreza Abbassian.

The index measures the prices of five major food commodities on international markets: cereals, dairy products, meat, sugar and vegetable oils. Large supplies pushed down international prices of cereals (apart from rice prices), oils and sugar. Overall, in 2013, sugar prices were 18% lower than in 2012, while the dairy index averaged 243 points – its highest ever annual value.

Beef and pig meat values rose in December, with demand from China and Japan behind consistent beef price increases since last June. Prices for poultry were stable, while those for sheep meat fell.

(More on UK food security)