Skyrocketing agricultural commodity prices are causing the world to re-enter a period of "agflation", with food prices forecast to reach record highs in 2013 and to continue to rise well into Q3 2013. Unlike the staple grain shortage of 2008, this year's scarcity will affect feed intensive crops with serious repercussions for the animal protein and dairy industries.
Rabobank estimates that the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Food Price Index will rise by 15% by the end of June 2013. In order for demand rationing to take place, in turn encouraging a supply response, prices will need to stay high. As such Rabobank expects prices – particularly for grains and oilseeds – to remain at elevated levels for at least the next 12 months.
Whilst the impact of higher food prices should be reduced by favorable macroeconomic fundamentals (low growth, lower oil prices, weak consumer confidence and a depreciated US dollar); interventionist government policies could exacerbate the issue. Stockpiling and export bans are a distinct possibility in 2012/13 as governments seek to protect domestic consumers from increasing food prices. Increased government intervention will likely encourage further increases in world commodity and food prices.
On top of that, Rabobank warns that global food stocks have not been replenished since 2008, leaving the market without any buffer to adverse growing conditions. Efforts by governments to rebuild stocks are likely to add to food prices and take supplies off the market at a time when they are most needed.
September 19, 2012 - Rabobank