Independent view: EU sacrificing beef job with more imports
Published 08/03/2011 | 05:00
The increase in global food prices is certainly exercising the minds of politicians. High food costs are being blamed for everything from inflation to political instability.
According to the latest figures from USDA, food prices have increased by close to 10pc in Britain and 12pc across mainland Europe over the past six months.
The figure for the US is 7pc, while it has hit 25pc in Mexico and Brazil, the most populous countries in Latin America.
Worryingly, the level of increases for China is 33pc, while in India the figure stands at 35pc. Across North Africa, the rate of food inflation ranges from 36pc to 38pc.
The price hikes have resulted in talk of 'burn out' of buyers, while at EU level there is talk of the necessity of action to control feed costs.
However, should such action start with the multiples and commodity speculators -- or are we asking for too much?
Farmers are price takers; they are not price setters. The sale price for milk, wheat or beef is generally set either by supermarket buyers or by the trends on commodity markets.
The fickle nature of the commodity market was evidenced by the North African crisis. Speculators jumped out of food commodities almost as soon as the crisis struck, in the belief that there were larger short-term gains to be made in oil.