Monday, April 28, 2014

Food Prices set to Rise

The price of food goes up as a result of normal inflation, we all know that. But you might have noticed recently that food prices are going up faster than inflation. What is causing this? Several things.

1. Bananas
Fungus Causing Banana Emergency
A fungal disease, Fusarium oxysporum, is well on its way to wiping out the world’s supply of Cavendish bananas – the world’s most popular banana. With no widespread remedies to the naturally occurring fungus available, the prospects are dire to contain the disease from destroying the fourth-largest agricultural product on Earth. The news is reminiscent of the devastation wrought by the same fungus six decades ago against the Gros Michel banana – previously the world’s bestselling banana. The Cavendish replaced the Gros Michel due to their similar tastes, and because of greater disease resistance. Currently, there are no replacement bananas available to fill in for the Cavendish, thus if the Cavendish goes the way of the Gros Michel, bananas could be nothing more than a sweet memory. Banana prices continue to inch nearer to their record highs from March 2012.

2.  Beef
Beef… It May NOT Be What’s for Dinner Anymore
The western drought continues to affect commodity prices, as ranchers send their herds to slaughter in increasing numbers due to the lack of available water. The number of cattle in the United States currently stands at less than 88 million. That’s the lowest level since 1951 – when the population of the United States was 154 million (about half the size of today). As the record drought continues, beef prices could rise 7% to 8% in 2014, and roughly the same amount in 2015. Ground beef may see especially steep price hikes, upwards 10% to 15% this year alone. All of this means consumers will experience food inflation not seen in decades.

3. Pork
 US pork prices rise 10% after virus kills millions of piglets
A virus never before seen in the US has killed millions of baby pigs in less than a year, and with little known about how it spreads or how to stop it, it's threatening pork production and pushing up prices by 10% or more. Estimates vary, but one economist believes case data indicate more than 6m piglets in 27 states have died since porcine epidemic diarrhea showed up in the US last May. A more conservative estimate from the US Department of Agriculture shows the nation's pig herd has shrunk at least 3% to about 63m pigs since the disease appeared. The US is both a top producer and exporter of pork, but production could decline about 7% this year compared to last – the biggest drop in more than 30 years, according to a recent report from Rabobank, which focuses on the food, beverage and agribusiness industries. Already, prices have shot up: a pound of bacon averaged $5.46 in February, 13% more than a year ago, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ham and chops have gone up too, although not as much.

4. Corn
Corn is used for so many products and American farmers grow a lot of it. But with  millions of bushels diverted to produce ethanol, a feel good but misguided attempt to lower petroleum imports, the price has recently hit $5.00 a bushel. That is not the peak price but it certainly raises the price of farm animals that are few corn (which is everything). High priced corn raises the price of poultry, pork, and beef. Since the beginning of the year, corn prices have gone up 22%.

Chicken: Poultry prices increased 4.7 percent last year, the Department of Agriculture says, but 2014 is shaping up as one of the most-profitable years ever for chicken producers, as consumers switch from beef and pork. The government projects that Americans will eat the most chicken in three years. The law of "Supply and Demand" dictates that with more demand for chicken and other poultry the prices will go up. The high price of feed corn will inflate prices as well.

Fruits and Vegetables
The ongoing California drought has caused crop shortages that are only expected to worsen. The combination of disease and an unusually cold winter has damaged citrus crops across the Sun Belt. A month ago, you could buy fresh limes at grocery stores priced three for a dollar. But this week, non-organic limes were selling for 79 cents apiece at Safeway stores, and 98 cents each at Fred Meyer. That sudden price spike is the result of a drought has decimated the lime crop in Mexico, where almost all of the limes that are sold in the U.S. come from. The ongoing drought in California could bump up the price for a head of lettuce by 34 percent, to roughly $2.44. Avocados could go up 28 percent, to $1.60 each.
Average increases vs. 1 year ago:

  • Chicken:  5%
  • Grapefruit:  6%
  • Wine 8%
  • Beef:  8%
  • Turkey 9%
  • Bacon: 13%
  • Oranges:  23%

These facts make it all the more important for you to develop alternate means to secure food for you and your family. If you page back through this Blog you can find information on gaining food security through:

1. Hunting
2. Fishing
3. Foraging
4. Gardening

This is the time of year for picking and eating Dandelion. Get out and pick and eat this super food.
Click on the Dandelion link above to see that posting again.

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