From an article in the Telegraph by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (Hat tip to Gristmill reader KO):
What has abruptly changed is the twin revolution of biofuel politics and Asia’s switch to an animal-protein diet. Together, they have shattered the fragile equilibrium.
Investors who want to take advantage of agflation must tread with care, both for moral reasons and questions of timing.
Riiiight … moral reasons.
The way I see it, you can go the PETA route and call the closest thing the environmental movement has to a hero (Nobel Laureate Al Gore) a hypocrite for eating meat, replete with a bulbous-nosed, pot-bellied caricature, or you can admonish your politicians to stop supporting biofuels. I suppose you could do both. I’m concentrating my firepower on the biofuel side of the equation.
Industrial agrofuels are still in their infancy. They have to be stopped now, before it’s too late. As consumers, voters, and peaceful protesters, we have a measure of power. Let’s start using it. Find an effective way to convince humanity to eat fewer animal products and I’ll support that effort also.
More quotes from the article under the fold:
“There is a sense of panic,” says Abdolreza Abbassian, head of the FAO’s grains trading group. As so often these days, China is the swing player. It is replicating the switch to a diet of beef, pork, chicken, and fish that occurred in Taiwan and Japan when they became rich.
The world’s grocery bill has jumped 21pc this year to $745bn (£355bn), hence the food riots ripping through West Africa, Morocco, Yemen, Bengal, and Indonesia.
Russia has re-imposed a Soviet price freeze on bread, eggs, cheese, milk, sugar, and vegetable oil until January. Russian bread prices have doubled this year. Global wheat prices have surged from $3.75 a bushel to $8.26 since mid-2006.
Three people were killed this month in China at a cooking oil stampede in Chongqing. Mexico has imposed a ceiling on corn prices to quell a tortilla revolt.
The FAO says the food spike has a different feel from earlier cycles. “What distinguishes the current state of agricultural markets is the concurrence of the hike in world prices of, not just a selected few, but of nearly all, major food and feed commodities,” it said.