Lies and truth about food prices

May 19, 2008

- John Edmundson

Nobody trying to pay their bills recently could have failed to notice the way basic foods have increased in price. In New Zealand, we’ve suffered massive increases in the price of staple items like bread, milk and other dairy products. Turn on the news and it is immediately obvious that this is a global problem. Food riots and protests from countries as far removed as Haiti and Egypt make it clear that the world is faced with a major food crisis.

Globally, food prices have risen by a staggering eighty three percent in the last three years. Grain costs in particular have skyrocketed. Rice has doubled in price in the past twelve months. Corn has risen in price by seventy percent while wheat and soybeans have similarly hit record prices. These costs have then flowed on to other foods as well. With a large proportion of the world’s cattle being grain fed, dairy and meat prices have also been affected. Globally, the cost of cooking oil has gone up. In New Zealand, with inflation pushing at the Reserve Bank’s upper limit, our rulers’ response has been to tell New Zealand workers not to push for “inflationary” wage increases. In other words, New Zealand workers and the poor should bear the burden of rising food prices.

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