Food to double in price! We\’re all gonna dieeeeee!

A government advisor said everyday products such as cocoa and meat could become relative luxuries by the 2040s.

Professor Tim Benton, head of Global Food Security working group, added there could be shortages in the UK in the future as the emerging middle class in south-east Asia sparks a revolution in \”food flows\” such as the trade in grain and soya around the world.

Professor Benton, from the University of Leeds, told the Daily Telegraph: \”Food is going to be competed for on a global scale. There\’s been a lot written about where food prices are going to go but they are certaintly going to double, with some trebling. It\’s not just fruit and vegetables, but everything.\”

So, general inflation we expect to be around the 2% or so mark. Mainly because that\’s what the damn target is, 2 % or so inflation. 2% inflation over 35 years means a doubling in the general price level. So we already expect food prices to double into the late 2040s along with the price of everything else doubling. And incomes more than doubling of course.

The world\’s population is tipped to rise from 7 billion to 9.3 billion by 2050. Two years ago, Oxfam warned food prices were set to double by 2030 and that millions more could suffer food shortages because of a \”perfect storm\” of ecological and sociological factors.

Those sociological factors being that the poor are getting rich and that they\’d like to eat yummy meat from animals as well. And that same Oxfam report noted that food expenditures as a portion of income would continue to fall even as prices rose. Because, you know, the price rises are being driven by that very fact of people getting richer.

16 thoughts on “Food to double in price! We\’re all gonna dieeeeee!”

  1. The article also says “The UK already imports nearly half the food it consumes.” as if that is a problem. It’s not, it’s good because then we won’t get price rises of peas because of a poor harvest from the heatwave.

  2. @JuliaM After the news that many people have saved less than £30K for their retirement, that seems a good solution.

  3. Surely the good professor’s point is that as other countries become richer, they will out-compete us for food, pushing the global price higher. Yes, developing countries will be better off as the get richer; but meanwhile Britain stagnates and thus is worse off (relative to the newly-rich countries).

    We’ve already seen this happen with the oil price. As China’s and India’s millions of drivers took the roads, the global oil price soared; and the UK’s petrol price went up quite a bit too. Petrol prices in the UK have definitely increased more than median incomes or economic growth. Sure, for Chinese their income growth has outstripped the rising petrol price – hence all those millions of new drivers – but that’s scant consolation for poor car-dependent families in the UK.

    On a separate note, average income growth in the UK has been well under 2% per annum for the last five years, while inflation has been well above 2%. Economic growth is by no means assured.

  4. Presumably it is possible for food costs as a proportion of income to rise in some parts of the world while still falling globally?

    Emerging markets having rapidly rising incomes (covering the majority of the worlds population) which drives global food prices higher (but still rising less than their income is, so their food/income ratio is falling), while Western states such as the UK experience stagnating incomes AND rising global food commodity prices?

  5. The subtext is that we are not going to see the more than doubling in incomes because we are still going to be in recession while the Asian countries (& the south American and African & non-eu European) continue 6% average growth.

    And when that happens & British people find all these other countries are richer than them it won’t be because our political class are corrupt parasites deliberately keeping us in recession but because of world food shortages/the laws of nature/speculators/bankers/Jews, whatever.

    We could, of course, be out of recession and at least matching the world average any time the parasitic thieves were gone.

  6. Perhaps all these people will stop:

    1. Protecting agriculture
    2. Subsidising subsistance farming in Africa
    3. Babbling on about food miles
    4. Promoting so-called “fair trade”
    5. Opposing GM technologies
    6. Introducing endless protectionist PDOs

    …but I’m not holding my breath

  7. @Simon Cooke – the Fair Trade thing is the one which really gets my goat. My children have it rammed down their throats at (a very good) school – the ignorance beggars belief.

    The usual good-intentions-ignore-the-evidence-don’t-think-about-it-too-hard-but-it’s-the-thought-that-counts leftist drivel.

  8. Interested / Simon

    I think we should start a campaign to have FairTrade renamed “Poor but Picturesque”, which is, after all, what it actually means….

  9. Sam>

    If we’re being accurate, FairTrade should be renamed ‘jobs for the boys and bugger the poor ‘. They give less to poor farmers overseas than they get in direct government grants, let alone the licensing fees they charge. Basically, every penny they earn from the premium prices goes to pay cronies in the UK. The one comfort is realising just how small a scale they work on, because given the high profile it’s surprising to realise FT only raises a few million Pounds a year.

  10. Petrol prices in the UK have definitely increased more than median incomes or economic growth.

    Have you allowed for the 400% tax? It’s kind of hard to assign poverty to increased commodity prices when such taxes are levied on them.

  11. Tim Newman,
    Fair point, but even stripping out rises in fuel duty and VAT, the increase is well above wage inflation or economic growth.

    Unleaded 95 octane, UK average forecourt price:
    – May 2003: 75.8p, of which VAT 11.3p and duty 50.19p
    – May 2013: 133.4p, of which VAT 18.9p and duty 57.95p

    So the underlying product cost has risen from 14.3p to 36.5p in ten years; that’s a 155% increase, far outstripping UK economic growth.

  12. We are already living with artificially high food prices. The EU is paying farmers not to produce foodstuffs to keep prices high. Until those artificial price and supply constrains are removed we cannot talk about the ”,normal.

  13. @JollyGreenMan: thats not true any more. The CAP no longer has compulsory ‘Set a Side’ payments. Agricultural subsidies are decoupled from production – the farmer gets the same amount whether he produces or not, so the price of agricultural commodities within the EU is far more aligned with world market prices. The current system actually is pretty sensible – it means there is no incentive to produce at all costs, thus avoiding the butter and grain mountains of the 80s, but equally provides a floor such that the industry does not collapse in bad years, thus providing continuity of supply.

    The only part of the system that involves compulsory removal of land from production is the environmental part – farmers have to leave a 2m strip uncultivated around all fields for wildlife purposes. Most would be quite happy if this requirement was removed.

    Indeed the restructuring of the CAP plans to increase the compulsory environmental non farmed area to 5% of each land holding – again, farmers don’t want this, its the politicians who are demanding it. Go and tell them you want farmers to plough up every single acre of land in order to increase production and reduce prices, I’m sure they’ll listen…………

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