Food prices increased by 6 per cent in July after having fallen for three consecutive months, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Thursday. The FAO Food Price Index, which monitors the monthly international price variations of a basket of food commodities, averaged 212 points, up 12 points from June, the Rome-based agency said in a statement. This was still “well below” the peak of 238 points registered in February last year, FAO noted. July’s “sharp rebound was mostly driven by a surge in grain and sugar prices. International prices of meat and dairy products were little changed,” it said. The price index for cereal was up 17 per cent to 260 points, while rice was broadly stable at 238 points, up one from June. Sugar prices leaped 12 per cent, reaching a record 324 points, pushed upwards by poor harvest results in Brazil and concerns over production in India and Australia. Meat prices were down 1.7 per cent at 168 points, scoring the third consecutive monthly fall, while dairy was unchanged at 174 points.