Why world food prices may keep climbing

How will oil depletion affect the way we live? What will the economic impact be? How will agriculture change? Will we thrive or merely survive?

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biffvernon
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Post by biffvernon »

So that particular metric has increased almost 50% in a month. Interesting times for wheat farmers. (The Lincolnshire crop is looking just fine and dandy and we have a bit of fine weather coming up to finish it off.)
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adam2
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Post by adam2 »

biffvernon wrote:So that particular metric has increased almost 50% in a month. Interesting times for wheat farmers. (The Lincolnshire crop is looking just fine and dandy and we have a bit of fine weather coming up to finish it off.)
Is the Lincolnshire wheat crop typical of the UK, or have conditions been unusually favourable.
I would expect a good crop provided that the wet weather does not last much longer. If the crop is harvested not properly dried then it may be dried artificialy, but the fuel cost eats substantialy into the profits.

I had to connect up a SMALL electric grain dryer, the load was about 180KW! , 250 amps, 3 phase, and required a new larger transformer and an upgraded 11KV line to feed it.
Off peak electricity was considered competitive with oil or propane for this use however.
Last year, AFAIR some farmers harvested wheat as early as mid July, but August is more usual.
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biffvernon
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Post by biffvernon »

I've heard that some farmers have sprayed fungicide more often than they wanted to in the wet weather, but the crop has had every chance to grow. Cereals now need some hot dry weather, which we can, of course, be assured of. :)
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Post by adam2 »

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/mark ... _month.stm

Another day, another record.
And this is despite the economic situation that should lead to demand destruction.

EDIT Long after the original post. Note that the above link goes to the CURRENT price graph, not the graph current at the date I made the post
Last edited by adam2 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Aurora »

The Guardian - 19/07/12

Record cereal prices stoke fears of global food crisis

Severe drought in US - largest exporter of corn, soya beans and wheat - pushes up prices and revives memories of 2007-08 riots.

Article continues ...
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Post by Aurora »

The Guardian - 21/07/12

Food prices are at the mercy of global pressures that we struggle to control

Beyond the outcry about the cost of milk at home lies a deeper problem of international supply and demand.

Article continues ...
if Britain doesn't do more to feed itself, if it doesn't do more to support struggling sectors such as the dairy industry, we will be left at the mercy of the international markets.

The food price rises we would see then would be excruciating.

Be in no doubt: the current crisis in Britain's milk business is not an isolated incident. It's a warning.
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Post by adam2 »

More here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18858444

High food prices blamed on biofuels.
No doubt true, though of course a growing population, and more of that populating eating more meat are also to blame.

I suspect that a lot more more potential food is used as fuel than official figures suggest.
Cooking oil in discount supermarkets is cheaper than diesel, some people are starting to realise that many diesel cars will run fine on a mixture of diesel and veg oil.

I see no harm in the moderate use of biofuels for essiential puposes, but not to replace the volumes of fossil fuels used today.
After all, is growing rapeseed oil to feed a tractor any worse than growing oats to feed a horse ?
Last edited by adam2 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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adam2
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Post by adam2 »

More reports here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19193390

Becoming more mainstream.
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Post by biffvernon »

A friend of mine, just back from Hungary, tells of silly temperatures and dry rivers and I notice this:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-0 ... ports.html
Hungary’s maize crop has been damaged by extreme drought and hot weather, with an estimated 40 percent of the total harvest destroyed, state news service MTI said, citing the farm association Magosz.
Damage to the national economy may amount to 200 billion forint ($897 million), MTI said, citing Istvan Jakab, chairman of the farm association.
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adam2
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Post by adam2 »

The price of wheat and other basic foodstuffs fluctuates from day to day, rather like the oil price.

However we do seem to have entered a period of higher sustained prices rather than a short term speculative bubble.

Wheat remains very close to an all time record, and other grains follow a broadly similar pattern.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/mark ... _month.stm

Graph of the wheat price for the last 12 months.
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Post by woodburner »

kenneal - lagger wrote:
andrew-l wrote:Where do you get your wheat from Ken?
from up your way, Andrew, and I bought our hand milll from them as well - http://www.browfarmwheatproducts.co.uk/bread_wheat.htm
Thanks for the link. Have ordered a big bag. The rats will be pleased. Their flour must be luxurious at that price, I'll just take the wheat. I think their hand mill must produce a coarse flour if you can grind 1/2 cup/min. I find it takes 1/2hr to grind enough for a loaf.

It seems that from what looked in June was going to be a record harvest, the yields are now around 2.5t/acre, way above 1950s and 60s yields but low for today's high input approach. Apparently if it was not for a few days of good weather at the beginning of August, the uk would have run out of wheat.

There's not much chance that the government will come to their senses and stop wasting land growing food crops to be burnt though.
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Post by nexus »

Piece in the guardian about farmers around the world slaughtering their cattle and pigs because they can't/won't be able to feed them due to rising feed costs:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012 ... ood-prices
The mass slaughter of millions of farm animals across the world is expected to push food prices to their highest ever levels.

As well as hitting consumers' pockets, the predicted 14% jump in food prices will also dash the Bank of England's hopes of pushing inflation down to 2% by next year.
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Frederick Douglass
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Post by Little John »

adam2 wrote:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/mark ... _month.stm

Another day, another record.
And this is despite the economic situation that should lead to demand destruction.
You are never going to get demand destruction with a commodity as essential as wheat. Or, rather, demand destruction for something like wheat is essentially people starving.
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Post by adam2 »

stevecook172001 wrote:
adam2 wrote:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/mark ... _month.stm

Another day, another record.
And this is despite the economic situation that should lead to demand destruction.
You are never going to get demand destruction with a commodity as essential as wheat. Or, rather, demand destruction for something like wheat is essentially people starving.
I would differ.
As prices of wheat and other grains rise I would expect significant demand destruction.
In the affluent world a regretable amount of food is wasted, this waste is likely to reduce as prices rise, thereby reducing demand.
A lot of grain is fed to livestock, as prices rise meat produced thus will become more costly and less will be sold, again reducing demand.
If those who previously ate grain fed meat now eat bread instead, far less grain is needed.
And some people will turn to growing their own food, home grown wheat (or substitutes such as potatoes) is not true demand destruction but will appear as such since a fraction of an acre grown for ones own family does not appear on any official figures, but does reduce demand for industrialy produced grain.
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Post by clv101 »

adam2 wrote:A lot of grain is fed to livestock...
This is already causing demand destruction in the US with farmers slaughtering their cattle earlier than usual because of the increase in feed costs due to drought.
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