For most Americans, the cost of food hasn't always been such a big deal.
For the better part of the last 30 years, food supplies were plentiful and the economy provided enough wealth to keep cupboards stocked.
But my how things have changed since the financial meltdown of 2008. Today, food inflation has more people concerned about the cost of groceries -- and how they're going to pay for them.
Yet for investors, the same food price inflation dilemma presents an investment opportunity that is ripe for the picking.
With that in mind, agricultural stocks are where to look for the low-hanging fruit as food prices keep heading higher.
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agricultural commodities etf
Dr. Copper Leads the Breakout in Commodities Prices
Demand for commodities of all kinds is ramping up at breakneck speed. And despite fears of a slowdown in China's economic growth, Dr. Copper is leading the rise in commodities prices.
Copper earned that nickname because it's thought to be a bellwether on the health of the global economy, thanks to its numerous economic uses.
Prices slumped earlier this month after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao cut China's economic growth target to 7.5%, the lowest since 2004. China is the world's largest copper buyer, snapping up 40% of annual supplies.
However, predictions for weak copper demand were muted on Monday, as the Asian giant reported a stream of new orders pushed factory activity to an 11-month high in March. Growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector also picked up in March, more evidence that the world's largest economy is gaining momentum. The red metal jumped on the manufacturing data and is up 13.8% year-to-date (YTD).
The news has analysts predicting demand for copper is likely to pick up steam. "The U.S. is an important market, and with the economic outlook there brightening, demand is also likely to surprise to the upside," Commerzbank AG (PINK: CRZBY) analyst Eugen Weinberg told Reuters. But Dr. Copper is just part of the story. Just take a look at what's happening in other commodity markets...
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Commodities, "BEE" Markets and Multinational Stocks Are Best Investments For 2011
The U.S. recovery will continue this year, and U.S. stocks will continue to advance, though investors can expect whipsaw trading patterns and must beware of the point when the U.S. Federal Reserve ends the cheap-money mindset that's fueling the advances, says Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.
But uncertainty also brings opportunity, and Fitz-Gerald sees tremendous profit potential for those who are willing to remain invested - and who have the courage to make opportune choices. Commodities of all types, so-called "BEE" (Big Emerging Economy) markets and the stocks of companies that derive a major portion of their sales from these fast-growing overseas economies should be on everyone's investment menu.
And don't ignore multinational stocks from your own backyard: While it might surprise many investors to discover this, many U.S.-based companies are major players abroad, Fitz-Gerald says.
"I see the markets generally rising until mid-2011, which is when the reality of stimulus spending, the looming budget battle and fiscal follies set in. I believe that 15% is not out of the question, though not all in a straight line and not all at once," says Fitz-Gerald, a former professional trade advisor and best-selling author who is a regular contributor to Money Morning.
In a wide-ranging interview with Money Morning Executive Editor William Patalon III, Fitz-Gerald assessed the health of the U.S. and global economies, provided his outlook for the U.S. stock market, and for commodity prices, and even offered a fix-it plan that Washington would do well to take note of.
To read the text of Keith Fitz-Gerald's interview, please read on...