Meat-Pocalypse Now – How The World Works
Bad weather, growing demand and flat corn harvest yields all add up to one thing: That steak is going to cost you
By Andrew Leonard
The 2010 U.S. corn harvest will be the third largest in history, behind only 2007 and 2009. But that’s not big enough. When the United States Department of Agriculture announced last week that farmers would produce only 12.7 billion bushels of corn this year, down 4 percent from its September estimate, corn future prices exploded upward by the maximum allowable amount in one day, and meat prices are sure to head in the same direction. Bloomberg reports that retail prices for pork and beef are already at their highest point since the 1980s.
It’s only going to get worse. It’s very difficult to see how the fundamentals pushing agricultural prices up are going to change in any significant way. The consequences of surging global demand for meat, largely propelled by China — where meat consumption has more than doubled in the last decade and a half — combined with the diversion of as much of a third of the U.S. corn crop to ethanol, are inescapable.
From the Financial Times: