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Food Prices

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This One Animal Could Send Food Prices Soaring

On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will provide $3 million to help the one animal that will make or break U.S. food prices: bees.

Commercial honeybees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of the nation's agricultural produce each year, as reported by The Associated Press on Tuesday. Bees and other pollinators account for one out of every three bites of food Americans consume.

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The Best Ways to Profit from Food Inflation

Though tame through most of last year, food inflation has begun to surge again in 2013 - just as Money Morning Global Resources Specialist Peter Krauth predicted it would.

"Food inflation hasn't reared its head for some time, and I think it's about to start making headlines again before long," Krauth wrote in a Jan. 18 note to subscribers of his Real Asset Returns investment service.

Sure enough, an inflation report yesterday (Wednesday) from the Labor Department showed that the biggest increase in January prices came in the food category.

Food prices - for both groceries and food eaten at restaurants - rose 0.7% in January, compared with December, accounting for more than three-fourths of the increase in the Producer Price Index (PPI).

The biggest driver of food inflation in January was the cost of vegetables, which rocketed 39%, withbroccoli, cauliflower and lettuce increasing the most.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service is projecting food prices in 2013 will increase 3% to 4%, an annual increase the agency says is above the historical average.

The ERS said it expects animal-based food products (mostly meats) to be hit hardest, with cereals and bakery products also seeing above-average price increases.

The return of food inflation to the U.S. should come as no surprise, as it has become a worldwide trend over the past decade.

The Food Price Index developed by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has more than doubled from 97.7 in 2003 to 209.8 now following a decade of stability. (The index stood at about 102 in 1993.)

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U.S. Food Prices 2013: Just How Bad is This Bacon Shortage?

Americans, at least the ones who eat meat, love bacon.

In the late 1990s, the average American consumed just under 17 pounds of bacon per year. By 2007, that number had risen to almost 18 pounds of the pork delicacy on an annual basis.

Unfortunately, consumers the world over might be forced to shell out more for their bacon next year due to escalating food inflation.

Britain's National Pig Association (NPA) last week called a global bacon and pork shortage "unavoidable," citing shrinking herds. The trade group said production fell across Europe last year and is declining again in 2012, according to CBS News.

This is not just a Europe-specific problem. Citing the ravages of the Midwest droughts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in August that U.S. hog producers are paring production in an effort to control costs.

But before you stock up for the coming "Aporkalypse," will this shortage really mean no bacon in 2013?

"If you define a shortage as a situation where product cannot be found or where buyers must wait in lines to buy a product, the answer is no," Cindy Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the Des Moines, Iowa-based National Pork Board, told the site Life's Little Mysteries via e-mail. "But the quantity of pork available to consumers in the U.S. and the rest of the world will decline in 2013, due to high feed costs and significant financial losses by producers."

Indeed, prices will rise. Some estimates forecast a 2%-3% increase, while the NPA said prices could double as production falls 10%.

The real trouble with this situation is that food inflation is not limited to bacon or other pork products.

In fact, consumers in 2013 will likely feel an added pinch in almost every aisle of the local grocery store.

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How Higher U.S. Food Prices in 2013 Will Starve the Global Economy

The epic drought - the worst in 56 years - that has wreaked havoc on more than half the United States is setting up 2013 to deliver record-high U.S. food prices that will affect more than just our grocery budgets.

As the drought continues to kill crops throughout the Midwestern U.S., a region known as the "corn belt" because it produces 40% of the world's crop, the problem reaches farther than the dry U.S.

Now the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) warns that if countries, including the United States, restrict exports on concerns of higher grain prices, the world could face a kind of food crisis like the one seen five years ago.

"There is potential for a situation to develop like we had back in 2007/08," Abdolreza Abbassian, FAO's senior economist and grain analysts told Reuters. "There is an expectation that this time around we will not pursue bad polices and intervene in the market by restrictions, and if that doesn't happen we will not see such a serious situation as 2007/08. But if those policies get repeated, anything is possible."

Abbassian added, "The very strong appreciation of the dollar, and the surge in prices, is basically a double blow which is going to be quite stressful for some of the more fragile countries."

Related: Higher food prices are just one part of a fascinating but frightening global trend that will restrain our most vital resources, as well as your finances - unless you're prepared.

Rising Food Prices Stall Economic Recovery

The FAO Food Price Index jumped 6% in July after three months of declines. Grain markets got a boost from speculation that Black Sea grain producers, particularly in Russia, might levy export restrictions after a drought there walloped crops.

A study conducted last year by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, based on some 70 years of weather data, found that from heat waves to cold snaps to droughts, weather could cause up to a 1.7% rise or fall each year in the U.S. economy's gross domestic product. In 2011, not counting extreme weather events like tornadoes or hurricanes, the amount was $507 billion.

Jeff Lazo, one of the study leaders, told USA Today that the findings are significant "especially when GDP is growing a percent or so a year, if that."

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U.S. Food Prices 2013: How to Profit from the Pain

Rising U.S. food prices in 2013 are about to send U.S. consumers' grocery bills to new highs.

You see, the United States is in its worst drought since the Dust Bowl. Brutal heat waves and barely any rain have crippled farms across the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on July 25 issued a report warning every American to expect to pay 3%-4% more for groceries in 2013. That follows a 3.7% food price jump in 2011, and 3.5% expected in 2012.

"The drought is really going to hit food prices next year," Richard Volpe, a USDA economist, told Reuters. He said the pressure on food prices would start to build in 2012.

"It's already affecting corn and soybean prices," Volpe said, "but then it has to work its way all the way through the system into feed prices and then animal prices, then wholesale prices and then finally, retail prices."

Beef prices will be hit the hardest, as they are expected to rise 4%-5%, followed by dairy prices which could climb 3.5% -4.5%. Poultry and egg prices in 2013 are projected to go up 3%-4%, and pork prices 2.5% to 3.5%, the agency said.

But consumers don't have to succumb to the higher prices. You can actually profit from this trend by investing in these rising costs.

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Rising U.S. Food Prices are About to Eat Away at Your Savings

As U.S. households prepare for Recession 2013 , they'll have trouble saving as one constant expense is starting to take a sharp climb: food prices.

Higher U.S. food prices are the last thing the country needs as 2013 is set to bring with it a painful bunch of tax increases and the ominous fiscal cliff, but U.S. consumers need to understand that their grocery bills are about take a much bigger chunk out of their wallets.

You see, the United States is in its worst drought since the Dust Bowl. Farmers for months have been grappling with the effects, which are trickling down to your local store shelves.

"In 2013 as a result of this drought we are looking at above-normal food price inflation," U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) economist Richard Volpe told the Associated Press. "Consumers are certainly going to feel it."

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Buy, Sell or Hold: Soaring Food Prices Signal Sell for Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY)

The high cost of food and energy is eating away at companies like Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY), the country's largest commercial food distributor.

Indeed, inflation has soaked up the dollar's purchasing power, forcing millions of Americans to slash discretionary spending. Furthermore, the U.S. Federal Reserve, through its lax monetary policy, has been exporting inflation to the rest of world. The resultant price increases in commodities have hit the wallets - not to mention the bellies - of many consumers, including those in the United States.

Making matters worse, global weather patterns last year shifted from El Nino into a La Nina pattern. This has caused rain patterns around the world to change, affecting crop yields in Russia, Australia, and China.

That's why the price of soft commodities used in the preparation of foods has risen exponentially over the past year. It's also why you should sell Sysco.

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U.S. Clean Energy Investment Puts Upward Pressure on Rising Food Prices

In U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, he highlighted clean energy investment as a key component of America's future, one that will be reflected in his budget proposal for fiscal 2012.

"With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015," the president said in his speech to members of Congress. "[I]nstead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."

This commitment to clean energy investment increases the importance of biofuels like ethanol, made from corn and other agricultural products. About 40% of U.S. corn is used to make ethanol, and increased ethanol production leads to higher corn and food prices.

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Hidden Inflation: Food Prices Flying Under the Fed's Radar

Soaring food prices have been, perhaps, the most pressing global issue of the past two years – yet the U.S. Federal Reserve has taken a "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" approach to the global crisis.

Instead, the Fed has dutifully maintained its focus on so called "core inflation" in the United States – even as Americans suffer the consequences of the "hidden inflation" the government refuses to account for.

The Federal Reserve excludes food and fuel prices from its preferred gauge of inflation because they are often influenced by erratic weather patterns and political turmoil. That at times has been the case over the past few years.

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United Nations Warns of Food Price Hikes, Painting a Picture Similar to 2008's "Silent Tsunami"

The United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) yesterday (Wednesday) warned that food prices could rise through 2011 unless production of major crops rises significantly, outlining a situation reminiscent of 2008's "silent tsunami" food crisis.

The FAO announced in its twice-yearly Food Outlook report that global food import costs will jump 15% in 2010 to $1.026 trillion – dangerously close to the 2008 crisis level of $1.031 trillion. The world food import outlook was revised up from a June estimate of $921 billion.

Increasing global demand is boosting the food bill, and price climbs in grain and sugar – which recently passed its 30-year peak – have signaled even higher prices ahead.

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Five Ways to Profit as Coffee Prices Soar

Coffee prices have zoomed over 54% in the last year, including 44% since June alone. Retired hedge-fund manager sees the potential for coffee prices to soar another 30%. Find out how to profit in this free report.

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Five Ways to Profit as Coffee Prices Soar

If you're anything like me, you can't resist stopping in for a "cup of Joe" every morning. If so, you're probably also like me in that you're experiencing a bit of pain in the wallet right now, given the steady increase in coffee prices we've see over the last year (and especially in the last few months).

If you want physical proof that we're operating in a truly global economy these days, just look at how these three factors have creamed your coffee budget:

  • Lousy weather in Latin America is threatening a big chunk of the worldwide coffee crop.
  • U.S. coffee stockpiles are reportedly at a 10-year low.
  • And Vietnam and Brazil - two of the world's Top 3 exporters - are scheming to hoard their stockpiles.
Little wonder coffee prices are at 13-year highs, and coffee futures have zoomed 44% since June.
Expect the trend to continue.

This may be bad news for your pocketbook - but it's great news for your portfolio. Coffee prices are going to rocket another 30% from here.

And with the strategy we're about to show you, this run-up in prices will be truly good 'til the last drop.

To learn more about how to profit from the global bull run in coffee, please read on...

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Louisiana Judge Blocks Offshore Drilling Ban

A federal judge in Louisiana today (Tuesday) blocked a White House moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, MarketWatch reported. The White House said it would appeal the decision immediately, according to reports.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed papers Sunday in a New Orleans federal court petitioning for the six-month deepwater oil drilling ban be lifted in 30 days. The papers said that lifting the ban would avoid "turning an environmental disaster into an economic catastrophe."

"Even after the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, the government only shut down the airlines for three days," Caldwell said.

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Louisiana Supports Companies' Fight Against Oil Drilling Ban to Save Local Economy

The Louisiana government has asked a U.S. judge to lift a six-month deepwater oil drilling ban to prevent the demolishment of local livelihood and the collapse of the oil industry.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed papers Sunday in a New Orleans federal court petitioning for the moratorium to be lifted in 30 days. The papers noted that lifting the ban would avoid "turning an environmental disaster into an economic catastrophe."

"Even after the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, the government only shut down the airlines for three days," Caldwell said.

The U.S. government requested to delay a hearing until July, but U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ordered regulators and offshore companies to appear in court yesterday (Monday).

"The issues presented are of national significance and to delay resolution would be irresponsible," Feldman wrote on the order denying the government's request.

Feldman heard opening statements Monday and promised to rule on the ban by noon on Wednesday - though he could rule as early as today (Tuesday).

"The court has to decide if there is a rational basis for the choice the government has made," Judge Martin Feldman said during the case's opening statements.

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With Inflation Accelerating Around the World, Will the United States be Next?

Inflation is now thoroughly entrenched in India's economy, and some analysts fear that the United States could suffer the same fate if adjustments to monetary policy aren't made soon.

India's wholesale price index-based inflation rate in February accelerated to 9.89% from a year earlier. That was the fastest pace in 16 months, blowing past the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) estimate for an 8.5% inflation rate at the end of March.

Soaring food prices were the primary driver of inflation. An index measuring wholesale prices of lentils, rice, vegetables and other food articles compiled by the commerce ministry rose 16.3% in the week ended March 6 from a year earlier after a 17.81% gain the previous week.

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