Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Food prices taking bite out of budgets: Costs likely to climb up to 4% this year, economist says

Mary Seabrook joked that she won't have to go to Weight Watchers if food prices keep climbing.

"They are awful," the Ladson resident said while shopping in a downtown Charleston grocery store. "I just shop for the stuff that's on sale. I just won't eat as much."

Overall food prices will climb 3 percent to 4 percent this year as world demand in an economic recovery drives up the cost of fuel as well as basic commodities such as corn, wheat, soybeans and sugar, agricultural economist Chris Hurt of Purdue University said Monday during the Food Media Seminar at Charleston Place Hotel.

And if a troubling drought persists into the summer across part of the world's bread basket in the south central United States, commodity prices could rise even higher and the world's food supply could be threatened, he added.

"We are shaping up for a short production year," Hurt said. "This is causing a lot of concern."

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Rising food prices translates into more ministry opportunities for churches--not only to those most affected by the higher prices but also to those seeking to make their food dollar stretch further and to put low-cost, nutritious meals on the table.

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