In recent weeks you might have noticed your grocery bill rising. If so, you’re not alone. Food prices are soaring worldwide. Consumers in many western nations are just beginning to notice the change; however, in many parts of the world the rising cost of food has already reached crisis levels.
Rising Food Prices
Global food prices, based on United Nations records, rose 35 percent in the last year, escalating a trend that began in 2002. Since then, prices have risen 65 percent. This year, corn prices have hit a 12-year high and the price of wheat has jumped almost 90 percent.
Likewise, in just the past few weeks the cost of rice has gone from $580 per ton to $760 per ton. Rice is the staple food for more than three billion people around the world-most of whom live in poorer nations. Some already spend 50 to 70 percent of their incomes on food.
The Perfect Storm
Experts are describing the problem as “the perfect storm.” Its cause is said to be a combination of various factors: Growing populations means growing demand. Also, the growing middle class in places like China means growing demand for more varieties of food. The demand for beef in China has increased, which in turn affects the price of corn.
Unusual weather conditions and drought have also been a factor. In Australia, prolonged drought has reduced wheat exports by half and the rice crop this year will be the smallest in history. In Bangladesh, a cyclone last summer destroyed 600 million dollars’ worth of its rice crop. Events such as these have decreased the overall food supply.
Rising oil prices have also caused prices to rise. Oil prices affect not only the cost of transporting food, but also the cost of fertilizers, which are made with oil derivatives.
Government mandates and subsidies for “biofuels” have also had an impact. In the U.S. it is estimated that almost thirty percent of the grain harvest is being diverted to make ethanol. Likewise, the European Union plans to start producing enough biofuels to meet at least 10 percent of its transportation needs by 2010.
This situation has not received enough media attention, prompting some to label it the “silent famine.” Malnutrition and hunger are growing problems and charitable organizations are having trouble keeping up with the growing demand. The black horseman of the Book of Revelation speaks of a condition wherein a man’s daily wages are so poor, he can barely support himself, much less his family. Are we getting close?
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a Black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.