Is Another Bout Of Global Food Inflation Just Around The Corner?
by Tyler Durden
While the price of food to the American end consumers has been relatively flat over the past few months (at least according to official CPI data), behind the scenes another food inflationary storm for the “rest of the world” is quietly brewing. The reason: after creeping higher all year, soybean prices are just shy of record highs. And while that may not mean much for a population that is used to dining out on 99 cent meals, soy is one of the most highly prized and used broad spectrum use food commodities around the world. From the FT: “The price of soyabeans is heading towards the record high set during the 2007-08 food crisis, which is set to reignite fears of runaway global food inflation. The surge in prices is because of falling global production levels following dry weather in Latin America and increased China imports. Soya’s wide range of use as feed for cows, sheep, pigs and poultry – and as a source for oil used in foodstuffs such as biscuits and cakes – means its high price could trigger food inflation fears.” Most importantly, soy is one of China’s most important agricultural imports, with soy prices very closely linked to Chinese inflation. So for all those wondering why the great Chinese goal seek model continues to confound expectations and keep coming in stronger than expected (at least in a Schrodinger sense) despite the country’s economy sputtering based on both electrical usage and net trade, that’s the reason: the last thing China needs in a critical political election year (ahem Bo Xilai) is a sudden spike in food inflation which would be only exacerbated by more PBOC easing. Just recall how closely the media was following reports out of China last year as many thought a rerun of the Arabian spring in the streets of Beijing was virtually inevitable.