WHILE SOME worry about the world feeding itself, the real issue is low prices caused by oversupply of so many crops.
Cattle and coffee are doing well, due to supply shortages, but generally food prices are down, on a long down-trend.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics household survey out this week showed families under stress from high mortgage, credit card, energy and utility prices. All the government supplied or prices services such as electricity, gas and water are up double, treble and quadruple wages and inflation over the last decade.
But families have no problems feeding themselves if they stick to the basics — home cooked rather than $20 smashed avocado and coffee breakfasts.
Most families spend more on mobile phone and internet and cable TV than they do on food basics!
So when a farmer showed me that he was getting less for tomatoes than the box cost, or pineapples were selling for less than picking costs, then you wonder about so called ‘food shortages’.
And despite hurricanes, droughts and floods across the world, markets are deluged in grain to the extent ships and warehouses are bulging despite low prices.
Interestingly, it is high-tech western farmers who can produce so much high quality food they can undercut low wage developing country farmers, except in a few high labour content foods such as nuts and some tree fruits.
Farmers are just too productive!
Do consumers really appreciate tomatoes at $2 a kg — effectively subsidised by an efficient farmer and good weather.
Maybe they should price in a margin for a profitable farmer, still get low cost, very available food, and contribute to real sustainability in agriculture.