Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rise and rise of food prices

Food prices are on the rise in an unprecedented way. In the US, the falling value of the dollar is contributing in no less a measure to this in general and in particular to the rise in prices of imported foods such as fruit from Spain. A gallon of whole milk that sold for $2.78 in January 2000 costs around $4 today.The free falling dollar isn't the only culprit. Record oil prices and the rush for meeting the huge demand for biofuels,as ethanol production has gone up several folds to meet clean air standards and reduce dependence on crude oil,seem to be having a ripple effect on food prices. Average food prices have gone up by 5.4% in the last one year and prices of dairy and related products has soared 14 percent.

Adding to these woes are higher demand in developing nations for food products due to increased population and rising incomes. According to the IHT,the other oil shock is the shortages and soaring prices for palm oil, soybean oil and many other types of vegetable oils.It reports that food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. Pakistan, in recent weeks, is witnessing shortages in wheat and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs.

Also,to cope with increased oil demands, countries are enhancing their oil crop acreage which, according to conservation groups,are leading to tropical forests being leveled to make way for oil palm plantations, destroying habitat for orangutans and Sumatran rhinoceroses while also releasing greenhouse gases.

With agroflation pounding in and food prices set to rise by 50% over the next decade, we can all be sure of a drop in standard of living.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This artical touch new basis I was oblivious too. THe topics brought up are usually over looked by most. I had no clue that wild life was being destroyed for palm oil!