OLD Media Moves

Examining rising food prices

November 30, 2008

Nancy Barnes, the editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, writes Sunday about the paper’s series on rising food prices, which started today.

Barnes writes, “The world’s food markets have never been so interdependent, nor have its trading markets. A development in one part of the world — Chinese consuming more protein — can have consequences for the price of pork in your food aisle. A runup in the price of oil affects the cost of the packaging that goes into a box of Hamburger Helper. Investors, looking for the next sure bet, start pouring money into the futures market for grains, making food just another commodity (like oil) on which to place a bet.

“Any one of these events has a trickle-down effect through the entire food chain, which literally stretches from Papua New Guinea, where palm oil is produced, to your local grocery market. Add them all up and you have the recipe for what seem to be inexplicably higher prices.

“‘More than ever,’ said business editor Eric Wieffering, ‘the price you pay for food is beyond your control. The price you pay depends on what people in other parts of the world are doing.’

“Reporters who worked on this project learned a lot, and they hope our readers come away with a better understanding of how interconnected the world’s food supply is, where the weaknesses in the food chain lie and how these fault lines can erupt in the future with direct consequences for your grocery bill.”

Read more here.

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