03 August 2012

Food prices expected to go up more than usual next year

"Extreme" and "exceptional" drought conditions are affecting an acreage of crop and pastureland the size of Texas across the U.S.:
Source: droughtmonitor.unl.edu

One prediction I've heard is that food prices will rise in 2013 at a rate exceeding that of ordinary inflation. But they won't rise by much, and the increases will be mostly in items my household doesn't use: supermarket foods with corn (maize) ingredients, and meat and poultry. On the other hand, dairy and eggs, which we do use, will also be more expensive. Makes me wish I could keep chickens! (Why I don't is another post.)

Should I buy a case of butter and put it in the freezer? I don't think so; it doesn't keep well after a few months. Eggs can be frozen for longer, but you have to muddle the yolk and white first, which limits what you can use them for. Pickled eggs? No, thanks.

On the other hand . . . as I'm writing this, I'm thinking about what I purchased at the supermarket on my most recent visit: a couple of pounds of fresh produce, a bottle of unflavored seltzer water for home-made Italian sodas, and some flour. Corn ingredients go into all those convenience foods, processed foods, sodapops, and cookies that I almost never buy. Really, about the only time high-fructose corn syrup enters my house is when I buy a bottle of Karo syrup for a particular family dessert that I make only infrequently. Maybe the increase in food prices won't hit my wallet too hard, after all. How would even a record rise in corn prices cause a rise in the price of fruits and vegetables, or olive oil, or cocoa powder?

I had started this post with the aim of discussing what I was going to alter in my pantry strategy this year to anticipate higher food prices next year. After thinking it through, however, I don't think there's much, if anything, I'll do differently this year.

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