Monday, January 18, 2010

2010: a year for high food prices?

Now's the season for people to start thinking about their garden plans for the coming year. While you're considering those, consider this, from a New York Times story about the recent cold snap in Florida:

Vegetables were among the hardest hit. At least one major tomato grower, Ag-Mart Produce, has already declared that most of its Florida crop is “useless due to the freeze.” Other vegetable farms were expected to lose their entire crop, and wholesale prices have already increased.

“Tomatoes were down around $14 for a 25-pound box; now they are up over $20,” said Gene McAvoy, an agriculture expert with the University Florida, who predicted $100 million in vegetable losses. “Peppers — just after New Year’s they were $8 a box; now they’re up around $18.”

Translation: get ready to pay up to an extra dollar a pound at supermarkets in New York and Chicago.

A number of outlets are predicting that 2010 will be a year of climbing food prices:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects overall food prices to rise as much as 4 percent in the U.S. by the end of 2010. Yet, some economists think they could climb by as much as 5 percent. Even using the government's more conservative numbers, the price for eggs is forecast to rise 3 percent and beef is seen increasing 2 percent. Lamb, seafood and fish? All three categories are expected to jump as much as 5 percent.

A 5 percent boost in your grocery bill may not seem terribly devastating, but consider this: If you spend $300 a week on groceries now, you'll need to squeeze a raise of about a thousand dollars a year out of your boss (don't forget withholding tax) just to keep up with higher chicken, beef, pork and dairy prices....

[C]onsumers are still paying about 45 percent more for food now than they were just two years ago. Bill Lapp, former chief economist at food giant ConAgra (CAG) and now president of Advanced Economic Solutions, a consulting firm in Omaha, Neb. that specializes in analysis of food costs, says at the peak of the global food crisis, food prices in the U.S. grew 6 percent. In 2010, he thinks they could jump 5 percent. Yikes.

Establishing a garden can be a great investment with long-term paybacks. We're planning to set up times in the next month or so to meet with Rodgers Forge neighbors to talk about vegetable gardening and what we can do to help get your gardens going. (Contact us at if you're interested in meeting.) It's a good year to start planting.

1 comment:

Brother Juniper said...

In a world of the latest and the greates upgrade, when the original worked fine, It's time to think about downgrading. Taking ownership of a little bit of our food supply would be just a start. Why does it always take something like high prices to get people wondering about being a cog in the great consumer wheel of life. We need to consider what we have become by trading the pre-industrial age knowledge and skills for the ability to, regardless of what your job is, sit in front of a computer all day. The best food is the closest grown and what could be closer than your back yard. It's not only cheaper, it's better. Hopefully after we make the decision to grow our own food, we will also discover talents and abilities that help us grow our own lives, instead of buying them at the closest Wal-Mart's for the cheapest price. People talk a lot about the economy these days. How about taking ownership of our own food, clothing and shelter items? If enough of us did, there would be a real economic revolution. We could cut the chains that bind us to a complex economic hierarchy and Keep It Simple, Stupid. (Read "Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered")