Monday, October 17, 2011

? and Jelly

So, I read that the price of peanuts is set to rise as much as forty percent (40%) due to poor goober growing conditions south of the border. What this means to us peanut butter loving types is a sharp increase in the price of peanut butter and other products such as peanut oil.

And then I read that the price of cereal grains is likely to remain high due to a variety of reasons, not the least among them the horrendous flood or drought conditions existing in various parts of the world. If you were a farmer in certain parts of North America you got flooded and suffered from drought both. Lucky you (not).

There is even concern about my favourite drink, coffee. A combination of labour shortages and climate change may well see supplies dwindle, sending the already rising prices into the stratosphere.

And of course there is just the general rise in food prices we’re seeing. More people (seven billion of us I think) competing for a flat or falling supply of food. Not a nice scenario. We’re still better off than most of the rest of the world, paying as little as fifteen percent (15%) of our disposable income to put food on the table. Most people spend far more than North Americans, and some places in the world that amount is fifty percent (50%) or more, and in the worst of drought stricken places, there is just no food to buy for any amount of money. We've been lucky so far.

Speaking of which, the lower parts of North America seem to be gripped in an intractable drought, with northern Mexico and the American Southwest being especially hard hit. When water is so scarce that growing hay is difficult, and the hay itself the target of thieves, it’s not a good sign.

Overall, look for food prices to continue to rise over the short to medium term, and act accordingly. Stock up on what is slated to jump (e.g. peanut butter) and keep a slow steady food acquisition and storage program in other areas. Having a bunch of stuff in storage will make it easier to wait on deals where you can buy cheaper and blunt the effect of rising prices.

If you’re not doing so already, it might be time to consider starting to raise some of your own food, or expand the scale of what you are doing (plant more taters!) or start producing in new areas (chickens: eggs and white meat!) to try to lessen your dependence on the local supermarket.

And keep an eye on the agricultural news so you aren’t blindsided by crop shortages or failures. Most people worry about political or financial news, but they are secondary to what is going on with your food supply. You can’t eat money or ballots.

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