Food shortages

Taking a second look at the shortage of food and the link to bio fuels this author suggests another connection-the emerging middle class. And he has some data to support his thesis.

The answer lies in the biggest, most under-reported story of our lives:  Today, more human beings are emerging from poverty than at any time in history.  If the present trend continues, within our lifetimes — or certainly within our children’s lifetimes — the majority of human beings will have emerged from poverty and joined the middle class.

Of course, the first thing people do as they emerge from poverty is improve their diets.  They can afford to buy food now, so they do.  That’s what’s really driving up the price of rice.  More precisely, leading rice-producing countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam, are cutting back or even stopping all exports simply because their own formerly-starving people now are buying the stuff.  This is entirely a good thing — but it causes painful, short-term dislocations in supply and demand.  After all, you cannot rev up food production to meet a growing demand as fast as, say, Apple can rev up production of its latest iPod.


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