Family food bills to soar: British shoppers face paying more for bread, pasta and meat after devastating drought ravages crops in U.S.

| August 28, 2012 | 0 Comments

  • Family staples will cost much more because of animal feed costs rise
  • British farmers say bad summer has decimated or delayed harvests in UK
  • In U.S., more than 35 states have declared disaster areas due to drought

By
Becky Barrow and Jason Groves

17:10 EST, 27 August 2012


|

21:45 EST, 27 August 2012

Families face punishing food price rises triggered by a catastrophic U.S. drought, experts warned yesterday.

They said the American crisis is forcing up the global price of crops used to make staples such as bread and pasta.

Meat is also tipped to cost much more because animal feed costs have soared, again because of the drought.

Prices in UK supermarkets will rise because of a catastrophic U.S. drought, experts warned

Prices in UK supermarkets will rise because of a catastrophic U.S. drought, experts warned

The miserable summer in the UK has made the situation worse because even common vegetables such as potatoes and peas are having to be imported from as far away as South Africa, Guatemala and Israel.

British farmers say heavy rain and lack of sunshine has decimated or delayed harvests.

In the U.S., more than 35 states have declared disaster areas due to drought. Arable land covering an area larger than Belgium and Luxembourg combined has been abandoned.

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said: ‘The drought is not yet having an impact but it will work through to meat prices because of the price of animal feed and ultimately to things such as bread and pasta.’

One Tory MP warned last night that high food prices were already having a severe impact on millions of families, with some parents forced to skip meals to feed their children.

Incomes are under huge pressure from inflation that has been above the official target for many months. Fuel bills are predicted to rise this winter with some suppliers already putting up their charges.

Families will be hit as the price of bread, pasta and meat rockets because of drought in the U.S.

Families will be hit as the price of bread, pasta and meat rockets because of drought in the U.S.

How prices have soared

The food price threat is a blow to George Osborne’s election strategy, which focuses on bringing inflation under control. Tory high command believes it can win the economic battle with Labour in 2015, despite the double dip recession.

But party strategists warn it is essential to get real incomes rising again.

‘We need to get inflation under control so that people start to feel a bit better off again,’ said a source.

This view of Salamonie Lake in Indiana shows how the water levels have dropped amidst severe drought sweeping parts of the U.S.

This view of Salamonie Lake in Indiana shows how the water levels have dropped amidst severe drought sweeping parts of the U.S.

Barren: The shore of the lake was once covered with water but all that remains is dried mug and washed up twigs because of the dry conditions

Barren: The shore of the lake was once covered with water but all that remains is dried mug and washed up twigs because of the dry conditions

The dried up reservoir in Indiana that has seen water levels fall 12ft and is now beginning to reveal a ghost town sacrificed in 1965

The dried up reservoir in Indiana that has seen water levels fall 12ft and is now beginning to reveal a ghost town sacrificed in 1965

‘We can make the case that the deficit is unfinished business, but without some sort of feelgood factor we are in trouble.’

The BRC says food price rises have slowed to 3.1 per cent over the past year compared with a high of 10 per cent in 2008.

Stephen
Robertson, the consortium’s director general, has warned ‘the relief
may not last’ because the poor US harvests are ‘creating a build-up of
inflationary pressure’.

PARENTS ARE GOING HUNGRY TO FEED THEIR CHILDREN, MP SAYS

Soaring food prices are forcing many parents to go hungry in order to feed their children, a Tory MP warned last night.

Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet, warned the era of cheap food could be drawing to a close, with potentially serious consequences for many families.

Miss Sandys, whose Kent constituency contains pockets of severe deprivation, said: ‘We’ve got to understand that this is really impacting families, certainly in my constituency, who have got the lowest incomes and these families are actually making choices that are undermining their family’s nutritional intake.

‘Sometimes parents are skipping meals regularly just to feed their children.’

Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s World at One programme, Miss Sandys said Britain needed to ‘change our attitude and possibly some of our policies in relation to food’.

She said supermarkets should be encouraged to stock cheaper ‘ugly fruit and vegetables’ to make healthy food more affordable.

And she suggested ministers should encourage the big retailers to do more to help the poorest customers eat healthily.

‘Public health information must also incorporate cost – the cost to the family,’ she added.

He pencilled in poultry and eggs for further hikes.

Around two thirds of American farmland is in mild or extreme drought, according to the BRC. Corn production has been especially badly hit in a country that is responsible for nearly half of the world’s exports of the staple.

Yesterday the price of soya beans – another key U.S. export – hit an all-time high.

Soya beans and corn can be made into oil and animal feed, as well as fuel ethanol, but they are also found in snack products, fast food and soft drinks.

The drought has led to calls for the G20 group of leading industrialised economies to hold an emergency meeting to tackle the world food supply problem.

Jose Graziano Da Silva, who is the director general of the UN’s food and agriculture organisation, said yesterday: ‘We need co-ordinated action and I believe that the G20 is responsible enough for this action.’

The threatened price rises will hit families struggling to survive the worst recession for decades.

According to analysts at Incomes Data Services, private sector workers are getting average pay rises of 2.5 per cent – below the 2.6 per cent level of inflation.

Millions have been hit by at least one pay freeze since the downturn began in 2008 and others have been made redundant or lost out on over-time or extra shifts. The Office for National Statistics puts annual food price inflation at 2.4 per cent but with beef costing 10.5 per cent more than a year ago.

The third price surge in four years has come after the drought in the US and poor crops from Russia and the Black Sea region.

Senior figures from the G20 will discuss the food price rises this week, but any decisions on action are unlikely before a mid-September report on grain supply, officials have said.

Mr Da Silva said he would not characterise the situation as a crisis, but it could reach that level next year if harvests in the southern hemisphere disappointed.

He said that even if wheat prices rose 10 to 20 per cent that did not mean bread prices would rise by the same amount.

 

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The people who comment on “over-population” – have it about right. This is one of the ‘taboo’ subjects that we keep hiding our heads in the sand about – it’s a problem that nobody wants to talk about. Certainly – for the past century – worldwide we have been breeding ourselves ever nearer to extinction. In Britain – because we are a small island – with a huge (and dramatically increasing population) – the problems are becoming both urgent and acute. But the attitude seems to be – it’s not acceptable to even mention it. One thing we do “know” – this is not a situation “nature” will tolerate forever and – throughout world history – there has always come a ‘reckoning’ – a balancing and “correction”. Historically – it has always been a cruel and rapid – world-wide viral plague that has culled our numbers…. against which – we have no defences. Maybe – if we started reducing our numbers – all by ourselves – nature wouldn’t have to step in and do it for us. If we don’t – Nature will.

“Sorry but we could all
Do with eating less!!!”
– me, the world
Not my children. Besides we’ve already cut back on our groceries twice now. Many of you won’t be affected by this, and many more could probably do with eating less. However spare a though for our already hard-pressed pensioners and all the families scraping by on one income with ever increasing bills to pay.

So? Don’t eat bread then, it’s full of additives anyway, the perfect chance to break the poison cycle. As posted the UK wastes too much good food already so perhaps this will help to change habits

a third of the USA grain production goes into biofuels, thereby adding to the world food shortages. So much for the ‘green’ approach to solving the world energy problems

Too many people, bluntly. Too many lazy benefit chav mothers popping out endless kids with no interest in supporting them. Too many middle class parents having three or more children because it’s fashionable and they are convinced their offspring are the most precious additions to the world ever, whilst giving no thought to the world of food and water shortages they will endure. End child benefit NOW.

There is NO drought in America. The land is reverting to what it used to be before it was farmed – desert!
The government has not invested in the irrigation systems for decades, therefore it’s falling to pieces.

How about we also start paying a few pence per litre more for our milk? Let’s be honest, we can all afford it and maybe then our farmers can actually make some profit!
My wife already thinks milk is £2.50 for 6 pants, it’s only about 1.70′ if it were to rise to 1.90 we won’t notice the extra 20p per week but the farmers sure as hell will!

“World food prices have already doubled due to arable land being turned over for Bio Fuels.” Jonah Skipton
Not true, as the vast majority of biofuels have been grown on either marginal land not used for food production or on land created from deforestation. Not a good thing, but something not impacting on food production. Global warming seems to be impacting on the principal corn belts in the Mid West of America and the plains of Russia, where most of the world’s grain is produced. With the Arctic ice cover due to reach the lowest levels in recorded history this year and a vast increase in extreme weather events like floods and storms, there is plenty of evidence it’s happening.
Ten days ago the Bank of England was complacently predicting a fall in inflation. I commented then that this was rubbish as world food prices were set to soar. Just wait until later this year and you will find my prediction is spot on as inflation returns to far higher levels.

But the Bank of England told us inflation was going to keep falling for the next couple of years. They seem to be rather worse at predicting the future than my granny with her tea leaves! Why do these muppets get paid so much?

There are far too many bone idle fat families in Britain, I don’t think food shortages are really going to cause much hardship. Plus as per usual it will be the animals in the meat trade who will suffer for this as they will be even more mistreated to provide cheap meat for a fat nation.

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