Soaring commodities costs, which some people blame on increased meat-eating in populous and growing-prosperous nations like India and China, are making people nervous. In Grist Magazine, Tom Philpott raises the specter of famine in a piece that notes that soybeans, corn, and wheat are trading at all-time highs, while global grain stocks are at their lowest levels since the USDA began keeping tabs on them in 1960.
Meanwhile, packaged-food producers in the United States are scrambling to cut costs or pass them on to customers. In a BusinessWeek piece, Judith Crown reports that “General Mills (GIS) in recent months reduced the number of pretzel shapes in its Chex and other snack mixes to three, from 14. The company had pretzels in the shapes of the letters ‘H,’ ‘O’ and ‘T.’ But research found (not surprisingly) consumers cared more about the variety of pretzel flavors than shapes.”
Other companies are passing on the costs to consumers: Sara Lee has raised its bread prices four times in the last year and a half.
With the grim outlook for higher grocery prices far into the foreseeable future, it seems like even hard-core home cooks might be tempted to become Dollar Menunaires.