Recent Food Crisis News Stories
Rather than reblog every story I come across regarding the growing food crisis, I’ve been trying to compile a list every week or so to make it easier for you to follow the trends and pattern.
Here is the most recent batch of relevant stories. If you buy food and store what you are already eating NOW, if the price increases even 5% you have saved that much money already.
Focus on foods made from grains, meat, coffee, cocoa, and even vegetables.
U.S. too vulnerable to rising oil and food prices
…oil is what we call the “keystone” commodity, meaning higher energy costs translate to higher costs for all other commodities. Unfortunately, demand is strong here as well. According to International Monetary Fund data, in early 2006, global nonfuel commodity prices — such as food and industrial materials — broke free of their post-Cold War trading range, increasing 37% before receding in the Great Recession. Since bottoming out in December 2008, these same essential economic inputs have risen another 78%, for an increase of 149% in the last decade.
Food, in particular, is trading at all-time highs. Corn and soybeans are at near-record prices. Wheat, hit badly last summer by the Russian heat wave, is still trading 30 percent higher, even after fears have eased over a major Chinese drought.
High global food costs, radiating out from drought-stricken Asia, could further destabilize other developing nations, democratic or not, whose populations are upset that their governments are unable to protect them from the disruptive forces of the global marketplace. Here at home, higher basic food and other costs would erode the accounts of middle-class families even more.
Lack of Food could determine Libya’s Future
Food shortages in eastern Libya, the largest rebel-controlled area, have reached dire levels. Fighting has left food stocks depleted and food supply chains in shambles. Around Benghazi, food prices have reportedly risen by 50 to 75 percent. Due to its poor suitability for agriculture, Libya imports the majority of its food, which has become largely impossible since fighting broke out.
Grocery Prices in Canada predicted to rise five to seven percent more by end of 2011
Torontonians will be paying between five and seven per cent more for groceries on average by the end of the year, economists say.
A family that spends about $400 a month on groceries could end up paying up to $340 extra in a year.
Bad crops around the world, oil trading for more than US$100 a barrel and the economic recovery are driving prices higher.
Food companies are raising prices due to the soaring costs of key commodity ingredients like wheat, corn, sugar and vegetable oil, which have gone up as much as 50 to 100 per cent over the last year at a near-record rate.
Crop Prices Feed Inflation of US Food Bills
And it’s not just corn prices that are soaring. Soybeans are moving along with them. Wheat is climbing, too. So is sugar. And coffee. And cocoa. Some experts say they have never seen so many commodity prices so high at once.
"Everything’s high," Agney says, in a booming twang. "Watch the grocery store."
Indeed, analysts and recently released government estimates predict food prices will rise this year, thanks to a tangle of factors, from rising grain prices to monetary policy to oil costs. Prices for U.S. consumers could surpass the spikes of 2008, while the United Nations said Thursday that its global food prices index has reached an all-time high. Food prices, many believe, ignited the pro-democracy unrest rippling through the Middle East and Africa.
Rising food prices could spark riots in the UK, senior economist warns
Karen Ward cautioned that the UK was not immune to the kind of “food riots” seen in other countries around the world.
"Even in the developed world I think we have very, very low wage growth, so people aren’t getting more in their pay packet to compensate them for food and energy, and I think we could see social unrest certainly in parts of the developed world and the UK as well," she told Sky News.
She went on to highlight the link between high food prices and the escalating cost of crude oil.
The comments came as the United Nations warned the cost of food is now at the highest level for 21 years and set to rise further.
Food costs have gone up for eight months in a row, with the UK’s National Farmers Union forecasting the trend will continue for the rest of 2011.
Lebanon Stockpiles Wheat
Lebanon last month issued its first wheat tender in a year, buying 15,000 metric tons of wheat from the U.S. and 7,500 tons from Ukraine, Zaineddin said in a telephone interview today. Last year, Lebanon imported about 400,000 tons of wheat, he said. Governments bought more grain to curb domestic prices and quell rioting that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.
“The government plans to issue more wheat tenders this year after the recent rise in wheat prices,” Zaineddin said. “This is meant to provide the local market with subsidized flour and bread.” Lebanon has wheat reserves to meet demand for about five months, he said.
Economists urge Obama not to “Overreact” to Rising Food Costs
Rising food prices have been linked to the unrest that has swept through the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks. In most of the uprisings, calls for greater personal and political freedoms have been accompanied by complaints about unaffordable staple food prices.
Asked by FOX News how they would advise the Obama administration to contend with the spikes – which have as much to do with natural disasters and weather shocks as with human factors – both Hassan Zaman, lead economist at the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Equity Group, and Manuel Hernandez, a postdoctoral fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said they would caution the president not to manipulate food markets with trade policy.
Duke University Expert warns Food Prices may lead to further unrest worldwide
Bellemare’s research focuses on development economics and food policy. He says the cost of food is likely partly responsible for the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa and that the unrest will affect food prices worldwide, including the U.S.
“Food prices have not been this high since the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations began publishing its food price index in 1990. In light of the political unrest experienced throughout the world during the summer 2008 spike in food prices, there is good reason to believe that rising food prices may have played an important role in causing the political unrest in Tunisia and in Egypt. Some say that rising fuel prices will cause further increases in food prices in the U.S. and abroad, and further political unrest throughout the world. Climate change, which has an impact on food prices, is also likely to complicate matters.”
Food prices in Britain are rising at three times the rate of the world’s seven biggest economies.
Figures from the OECD put UK food inflation at 6.3 per cent, well ahead of the average of 2.1 per cent for the G7 group of nations.
The cost of putting meals on the table is also rising much faster than most of Europe.
Rising food costs could force U.S. eatery overhaul
Record-high food prices could be the tipping point this year for U.S. restaurants already struggling with high debt loads and tight-fisted consumers.
The economic downturn and drop in consumer spending has sent a handful of restaurant chains — such as Uno Chicago Grill pizza, Fuddruckers and Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse — into bankruptcy court during the past year. And 2011 is not likely to be much better, experts say.
"There are many companies that can absorb an increase in food costs," said Steven Simms, a senior managing director at FTI Consulting who has worked on restaurant restructurings. "For companies that are teetering on the edge though, it’s just one more pressure point that they are going to experience as it relates to profitability and their ability to service debt."
Japan watching rise in food and oil prices
On March 9 and 10, U.N. organizations and Asian developing economies will have an emergency meeting in Bangkok to discuss how to deal with rising food prices. The Asian Development Bank fears that continued political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East and rises in the prices of raw materials and foods could intensify inflationary pressure and push down the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region.
About 60 percent of world oil deposits are in the Gulf coastal areas of the Middle East. For the time being there will be sufficient crude oil and oil products reserves. But if antigovernment protests intensify in oil-producing countries, speculative funds may move to push up crude oil prices.
In the past month, crude oil prices rose some 17 percent. The current level is nearly three times the level of mid-February 2009, five months after the Lehman Brothers financial collapse. Electricity and city gas bills in Japan will rise this month.
Food prices have been also on the rise due to an increase in demand in emerging economies, bad harvests caused by climate changes and inflow of speculative money into markets. The food price index of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization hit 236 in February, with 2002 to 2004 serving as the base years — a record high since statistics were first taken in 1990.
South Korea’s Food Prices Grow Fastest Among OECD Nations
SEOUL, March 9 (Bernama) — South Korea’s food prices grew at the fastest pace in January among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Yonhap news agency said citing a report revealed Wednesday.
According to the report offered by the OECD, South Korea’s food prices jumped 11.6 percent in January from a year earlier, the steepest hike among the 34 member nations of the Paris-based organisation.
Climate Change contributes to rising food prices, political turmoil, and rising fuel prices
Weather extremes are bound to effect crop yields in unpredictable ways.
To this point the food angle on the Mideast protests has been the stuff of newspaper sidebars. But perhaps rising food prices should be understood as the cause, not consequence, of rising oil prices – in which case, the weather story deserves deeper curiosity and more attention than it has been getting. Bad harvests around the world last year drove nominal wheat prices in Chicago up 74 percent, corn 87 percent. Food prices in the Middle East were already nearing records as the first crowds gathered in Tunis. They have climbed sharply since – 2.2 percent on the UN index in February alone.
Now the crisis in Libya has sent oil prices rising above $100 a barrel, guaranteeing that world food prices will rise still more. World Bank president Robert Zoellick said last month, “The price hike is already pushing millions of people into poverty and putting stress on the most vulnerable, who spend more than half of their income on food.” Another bad harvest – a drought in China, for example – would affect hundreds of millions more.
'Oil, food prices to eat up two-thirds of $110-bln payroll tax cut'
At a time when households heaved a sigh of relief due to the government’s payroll tax cut decision, the commodity boom is threatening to strike down the gains.
"We estimate that at least two-thirds of the $110bn payroll tax cut will eventually be absorbed by higher prices," Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note. The higher prices have played some role in the 0.1 percent month-on-month fall in real consumption in January, Dales noted.
Kenyan rainfall predicted to be low - food and energy prices expected to rise
Household budgets could tighten further in the coming months following forecasts of depressed and poorly distributed rainfall that could dent food and energy production.
The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) on Tuesday said this year’s long rain season that runs between March and May is expected to be below normal, aggravating the misery in arid and semi-arid areas whose economic activities have already been stymied by inadequate short rains.
“Rainfall distribution within the 2011 long rains season is expected to be generally poor over most part of the country with long dry spells likely to occur,” Joseph Mukabana, director of KMD said.
The effects of depressed rains over the first quarter are already taking a toll on the economy where inflation rose for the fourth straight month in February, to 6.54 per cent year-on-year from 5.42 per cent in January, mainly due to a rise in the cost of food and transport.
Sri Lankan government warns of rising food prices due to natural disasters
Mar 08, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government says that prices of food items are bound to see a sharp increase due to natural disasters experienced around the world.
Food Prices SOAR in Argentina, Bolivia, and Venezuela
CARACAS, March 8 (BERNAMA-NNN-MERCOPRESSS) — Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina are three Latin American countries where food prices have climbed the most during the twelve months last year.
Official regional statistics data shows that in the twelve months to Jan this year, food prices in Venezuela soared 37.2% (above the country’s inflation of 28%); Bolivia follows with 14% (8.4% inflation) and Argentina 13.1% and 10.6%.
Annual food inflation was almost double the retail price index in Costa Rica, 8.6% and 4.8%; Chile, 5.5% and 2.7% and El Salvador, 6.7% and 2.3%.
However it must be pointed out that in some countries the tendency is for an overall rise in all prices, such is the case of Venezuela and Bolivia, while others have suffered the hike in food prices which then pushed up the average inflation.
In Jan this year, some Latin American countries have managed to contain the increase in food prices such is the case of Chile, Honduras and Nicaragua.