Friday, October 29, 2010

The Food Crisis of 2011

Addison Wiggin

Every month, JPMorgan Chase dispatches a researcher to several supermarkets in Virginia. The task is to comparison shop for 31 items.

In July, the firm’s personal shopper came back with a stunning report: Wal-Mart had raised its prices 5.8% during the previous month. More significantly, its prices were approaching the levels of competing stores run by Kroger and Safeway. The “low-price leader” still holds its title, but by a noticeably slimmer margin.

Within this tale lie several lessons you can put to work to make money. And it’s best to get started soon, because if you think your grocery bill is already high, you ain’t seen nothing yet. In fact, we could be just one supply shock away from a full-blown food crisis that would make the price spikes of 2008 look like a happy memory.

Fact is,  the food crisis of 2008 never really went away.

True, food riots didn’t break out in poor countries during 2009 and warehouse stores like Costco didn’t ration 20-pound bags of rice…but supply remained tight.

Prices for basic foodstuffs like corn and wheat remain below their 2008 highs. But they’re a lot higher than they were before “the food crisis of 2008” took hold. Here’s what’s happened to some key farm commodities so far in 2010…

  • Corn: Up 63%
  • Wheat: Up 84%
  • Soybeans: Up 24%
  • Sugar: Up 55%
What was a slow and steady increase much of the year has gone into overdrive since late summer. Blame it on two factors…
  • Aug. 5: A failed wheat harvest prompted Russia to ban grain exports through the end of the year. Later in August, the ban was extended through the end of 2011. Drought has wrecked the harvest in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan – home to a quarter of world production.
  • Oct. 8: For a second month running, the Agriculture Department cut its forecast for US corn production. The USDA predicts a 3.4% decline from last year. Damage done by Midwestern floods in June was made worse by hot, dry weather in August.

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Anonymous said...

But the government tells us how low inflation is, so low they want to increase it by printing piles of money. Oh, that's right, they don't include food when calculating the inflation rate, just things ordinary people buy all the time, like yachts and congressmen.

Anonymous said...

Right / Food and FUEL (heating oil) NOT included in 'inflation rate' --too bad folks/SS citizens. You'll starve or freeze to death. MEANTIME -the hogs in Washington ALL got a $4,500 to $5000 cost of living raise in their paychecks and pensions/ what do they care about rising prices. Would that we all could (we just pay for their raises) raise our income to meet yearly increases! Remember also that (good ole Lieberman following orders) cheaper medicine was not realized in the chaotic (written by industry lobbyists) health bill. Medicine from Canada/ Japan made by SAME companies. Washington hogs could care less - WE pay 72% of their premiums (a couple dozen plans to choose from - NOT Medicaid on steroids which is what we're all getting).WATCH out after the elections/ VAT tax coming plus this Debt Commission is REALLY the IMF - Structural Adjustment Program (see Greece/ Spain - Iceland - third world countries) ---all services will be eliminated or cut to nothing/

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