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Thread: Load Up The Pantry

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Load Up The Pantry

    Load Up the Pantry

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120881517227532621.html

    April 21, 2008 6:47 p.m.

    I don't want to alarm anybody, but maybe it's time for Americans to start stockpiling food.

    No, this is not a drill.

    You've seen the TV footage of food riots in parts of the developing world. Yes, they're a long way away from the U.S. But most foodstuffs operate in a global market. When the cost of wheat soars in Asia, it will do the same here.

    Reality: Food prices are already rising here much faster than the returns you are likely to get from keeping your money in a bank or money-market fund. And there are very good reasons to believe prices on the shelves are about to start rising a lot faster.

    "Load up the pantry," says Manu Daftary, one of Wall Street's top investors and the manager of the Quaker Strategic Growth mutual fund. "I think prices are going higher. People are too complacent. They think it isn't going to happen here. But I don't know how the food companies can absorb higher costs." (Full disclosure: I am an investor in Quaker Strategic)

    Stocking up on food may not replace your long-term investments, but it may make a sensible home for some of your shorter-term cash. Do the math. If you keep your standby cash in a money-market fund you'll be lucky to get a 2.5% interest rate. Even the best one-year certificate of deposit you can find is only going to pay you about 4.1%, according to Bankrate.com. And those yields are before tax.

    Meanwhile the most recent government data shows food inflation for the average American household is now running at 4.5% a year.

    And some prices are rising even more quickly. The latest data show cereal prices rising by more than 8% a year. Both flour and rice are up more than 13%. Milk, cheese, bananas and even peanut butter: They're all up by more than 10%. Eggs have rocketed up 30% in a year. Ground beef prices are up 4.8% and chicken by 5.4%.

    These are trends that have been in place for some time.

    And if you are hoping they will pass, here's the bad news: They may actually accelerate.

    The reason? The prices of many underlying raw materials have risen much more quickly still. Wheat prices, for example, have roughly tripled in the past three years.

    Sooner or later, the food companies are going to have to pass those costs on. Kraft saw its raw material costs soar by about $1.25 billion last year, squeezing profit margins. The company recently warned that higher prices are here to stay. Last month the chief executive of General Mills, Kendall Powell, made a similar point.

    The main reason for rising prices, of course, is the surge in demand from China and India. Hundreds of millions of people are joining the middle class each year, and that means they want to eat more and better food.

    A secondary reason has been the growing demand for ethanol as a fuel additive. That's soaking up some of the corn supply.

    You can't easily stock up on perishables like eggs or milk. But other products will keep. Among them: Dried pasta, rice, cereals, and cans of everything from tuna fish to fruit and vegetables. The kicker: You should also save money by buying them in bulk.

    If this seems a stretch, ponder this: The emerging bull market in agricultural products is following in the footsteps of oil. A few years ago, many Americans hoped $2 gas was a temporary spike. Now it's the rosy memory of a bygone age.

    The good news is that it's easier to store Cap'n Crunch or cans of Starkist in your home than it is to store lots of gasoline. Safer, too.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #2
    AuGmENTor Guest
    Way ahead of them. I haven't hunted/ fished in years. I am getting back into it just to offset the cost of food. THere is such a deer surplus in NY you can legally take three a year now. Thats alot of meat in my freezer. I think I will be having fresh crabs from the river this year as well. I have been buying up big bags of rice in case the price goes as nuts as they say they're going to.

  3. #3
    AuGmENTor Guest
    UPDATE 3-Wal-Mart's Sam's Club limits rice purchases

    Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:12pm EDT
    By Nicole Maestri

    NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc's (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) Sam's Club warehouse division said on Wednesday it is limiting sales of several types of rice, the latest sign that fears of a rice shortage are rippling around the world.

    Sam's Club, the No. 2 U.S. warehouse club operator, said it is limiting sales of Jasmine, Basmati and long grain white rice "due to recent supply and demand trends."

    U.S. rice futures hitting an all-time high Wednesday on worries about supply shortages.

    On Tuesday, Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O: Quote, Profile, Research), the largest U.S. warehouse club operator, said it has seen increased demand for items like rice and flour as customers, worried about global food shortages and rising prices, stock up.

    Sam's Club, the No. 2 U.S. warehouse club operator, is limiting sales of the 20-pound (9 kg), bulk bags of rice to four bags per customer per visit, and is working with suppliers to ensure the products remain in stock.

    Warehouse clubs cater to individual shoppers as well as small businesses and restaurant owners looking to buy cheaper, bulk goods.

    With prices for basic food items surging, customers have been going to the clubs to try to save money on bulk sizes of everything from pasta to cooking oil and rice.
    Sam's Club said the large-sized bags of rice subject to the limits are typically purchased by its restaurant owner or food service customers.

    Sam's Club said is not limiting sales of flour or cooking oil at this time. Costco said some of its stores have put limits on sales of items such as rice and flour, but it was trying to modify those restrictions to meet customer demand.

    Costco Chief Executive James Sinegal told Reuters that he believed the recent surge in demand was being driven by media reports about rising global demand and shortages of basic food items in some countries.

    Food costs have soared worldwide, spurred by increased demand in emerging markets like China and India; competition with biofuels; high oil prices and market speculation.

    The situation has sparked food riots in several African countries, Indonesia, and Haiti. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that higher food prices could hurt global growth and security.

    Rice prices have risen 68 percent since the start of 2008.

    Trade bans on rice have been put in place by India, the world's second largest exporter in 2007, and Vietnam, the third biggest, in hopes of cooling domestic prices. Rice is a staple in most of Asia.

    On Tuesday, Tim Johnson, president-CEO of California Rice Commission, which represents growers and millers of rice in the state, said: "Bottom line, there is no rice shortage in the United States. We have supplies."

    Wal-Mart shares were up 0.4 percent to $56.80 in afternoon trading, while Costco shares rose 1.7 percent to $69.26. (Reporting by Nicole Maestri, editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Tim Dobbyn)

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