Monday, February 25, 2008

Unprecedented Food Cost Hikes Ahead

Shoppers warned bigger bills on way
By Javier Blas
Published: February 24 2008 22:02


When William Lapp, of US-based consultancy Advanced Economic Solutions, took the podium at the annual US Department of Agriculture conference, the sentiment was already bullish for agricultural commodities boosted by demand from the biofuels industry and emerging countries.

He added a twist – that rising agricultural raw material prices would translate this year into sharply higher food inflation.


“I hope you enjoy your meal,” Mr Lapp told delegates during a luncheon. “It is the cheapest one you are going to have at this forum for a while.”

His warning that a strong wave of food inflation is heading towards the world economy was met by nods from agriculture traders, food industry executives and western’s government officials at the USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Larry Pope, chief executive of Smithfield Foods, the largest US pork processor, warned delegates of a wave of “real food inflation” just at the time central banks were under pressure to cut interest rates.

“I think we need to tell the American consumer that [prices] are going up,” he said. “We’re seeing cost increases that we’ve never seen in our business.”

[snip]


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