Food inflation Continues and Here is Why

The Lempert Report
February 19, 2021

Even before Covid-19 we were starting to see food prices rise and layering the pandemic on top of the general market trends has made it much worse.

COVID-19 devastated food supply chains on the farm, had major upsets in both truck and sea shipping and certainly had an effect on labor as we continue to see workers in our food factories become infected or have to be quarantined and miss work. Meat packing facilities are still not back to operating at full capacity, which also drives up costs for the packer. Farmers who raise livestock including pigs, cows, chicken and turkey have yet another problem. Corn and soybean that they use for feed has reached the highest prices in seven years – basically increasing their feed costs by a whopping 30. What’s driving the feed price increases is that the bad crop weather is actually shrinking world harvests and demand is up. Then we look globally and find that China, the biggest buyer of commodities, is purchasing record amounts to feed its expanding pig herds. And as we walk down the aisles of the supermarket it means higher prices for the consumer for those animal proteins. 

According to Beef Magazine, the last time grains were this expensive was after the U.S. drought of 2012, and meat prices saw a dramatic run-up. As a result of this, meat could become a driver of global food inflation couple that with the hope that many more people will get vaccinations and get out of their homes and start heading back to restaurants with those stimulus checks in hand and want to order that steak, or pork or chicken dishes that they haven’t been able to make at home.

Listen to this: In Brazil, the cost of raising chickens rose 39% last year and are up another 6% in January. Corn futures in Chicago are up 28%, soybeans up 18% and that's just since December 1st. And then there are the animal disease outbreaks around the world we are faced with the deadly African swine fever and in Europe and Asia avian influenza outbreaks are popping up almost daily. Looks like yet another opportunity for plant based [proteins to make their mark.