Friday, July 8, 2016

Food prices since the Financial Crisis - Turning up

Longer trends in agriculture prices can be found through following the FAO food indices. As an aggregate of global cash prices and not just futures, it provides a broad measure of food costs around the world. The evidence shows that with the exception of sugar food prices have been relatively tame since the Financial Crisis. 

Food prices have not followed the behavior of financial markets. While there have been some common food price themes such as the gains in 2011 and the subsequent fall, it looks like there has been a bottom for food prices except for dairy. Cereal prices are back to levels seen at the beginning of 2009. Meats, oil, and sugar are all headed higher. The wildest ride has been in the sugar market which has seen similar moves to crud oil and has gained more than 50% in the last nine months. 

Food volatility is driven by climate supply shocks and market specific dislocations, but there is enough cyclicality and movement with global growth to suggest that there may be room for market upside. 

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