If you pick the right commodities in which to invest, your portfolio can prosper. Your grocery budget, on the other hand, will suffer, courtesy of surging corn prices.
Prices for numerous commodities jumped last year because severe weather and rising demand from emerging market nations combined drove costs upward.
"We're using $6 corn to feed hogs right now," up from about $4 last year, Wells Fargo economist Michael Swanson tells The Wall Street Journal. "Either the hog guy is going to go out of business or you're going to pay more for pork," maybe as much as an additional $10 for barbecued ribs.
Swanson expects retail food prices to rise between 3 percent and 4.5 percent this year, compared with 1.5 percent in 2010. He notes that pork is up about 12 percent from a year ago, beef 6 percent and poultry— which he believes will increase further — is up 2 percent.
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization's monthly Food Price Index, which monitors the monthly change in a basket of commodities including meat, dairy and sugar, rose for the sixth straight month in December to its highest level since 1990.
MarketWatch reports that Gluskin Sheff chief market strategist David Rosenberg says that this is only the fifth time in modern history that both energy and food prices have risen at a double-digit annual rate — and in those other years — 1979, 1980, 1996 and 2008 — consumer-discretionary stocks weren't the place to be.
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