Consumers will see another major run-up in food prices this summer due to the competition for raw materials, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) board of directors was told at its recent meeting.
AFIA President & CEO Joel Newman, in his state of the industry report to the AFIA board, said Congress and the Bush Administration must recognise that US$5 a bushel corn – and similar price jumps for soybeans and other food grains – can no longer be viewed as anomalies or temporary. “Five dollar corn looks to be closer to the new ‘normal,” Newman said, adding ethanol’s use of corn will hit 27% of the US corn crop during the 2007-2008 crop year.
The AFIA Board was told the average 5% increase in consumer food prices experienced last year is just the beginning, with food prices likely jumping another 10-12% this year.
“The industry’s cost of production escalation has only just started to work its way through the system. Feed price increases will be pushed through the food chain over the next six months,” Newman said, “Consumers can expect to see even higher prices for meat, poultry and dairy products.”
Newman laid out the “perfect storm” of factors forcing food prices higher, starting with crude oil prices topping $100 a barrel and increasing demand for alternative fuels. Couple that demand surge with the effect of global livestock liquidation, particularly in the swine industry, increasing export demand for US grains and oilseeds to meet stronger global demand for animal protein, an 11% increase in world feed production – which has led to record low US stocks-to-use ratios – combined with a weak US
dollar and significant increase in ag commodity speculators, and you have the inevitable pressure on US food prices, Newman said.
Supporting the AFIA internal analysis is a report released this week by the Coalition for Balanced Food & Fuel, of which AFIA is a member. In his report, presented at the Annual Meat Conference this week in Nashville, TN, Dr Tom Elam, president of Farm Econ, an analysis firm, said he estimates the cumulative costs to the food industry of the federal renewable fuel programme will be about $100 billion for 2005-2010. Elam said broiler industry input costs this year are up $3.4 billion (53 cents per bird); turkey input costs are up $646 million ($3.40 per turkey); swine input costs are up $2.9 billion ($38 per hog); cattle input costs are up $2.24 billion ($117 per fed beef animal) and dairy input cost are up $2.7 billion.