Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on April 25, 2008
The rising price of food is making headlines around the globe. While price hikes in basic commodities such as wheat, maize and corn are the root of much suffering in the developing world, here in the U.S. the impact is being felt particularly hard by consumers of organic produce. The cost of organic food, those grown without “pesticides, chemical fertilizers or antibiotics” has reached record levels — “a loaf of organic bread can cost $4.50, a pound of pasta has hit $3, and organic milk is closing in on $7 a gallon”.
The reasons behind the organic price increases are much the same as for conventional produce: higher fuel costs; ever increasing demand; and a strict grain supply that’s needed for animal feed, bread and pasta. Farmers raising organic livestock, organic bakers and organic pasta makers say they’re “struggling to maintain profit margins, even though shoppers are paying more”. Manufacturers and retailers worry that the spiraling price of organics will price some consumers right out of the market.
“Organic food is typically 20 percent to 100 percent more expensive than a conventional counterpart; the gap has narrowed in recent years as discount retailers like Wal-Mart have offered organics and more private-label organic products have become available, according to the industry”. At last count, the U.S. has 4.1 million acres of organic farmland; however, with record prices for conventional corn, soybeans and wheat, there is little incentive for farmers to switch. Furthermore, organic farmers are having to compete with ethanol production. But with further price hikes on the horizon, premium priced organic produce is something consumers will have to get used to.
The question is: what will be their monetary threshold, if any?
(via the New York Times)