Thursday, December 13, 2007

Over a Billion Mouths to Feed

There is a close parallelism between ancient food hunting to the modern times’. The nomadic primitives would leave one place after they have sucked its resources and find a greener pasture. That is a primitive way, as I’ve said, of doing things. These days we continue with the same food hunt with a more complex criteria: food price, quality, origin, etc.

I thought of these things Tuesday evening when I heard over the radio (on the long ride home) that there is another price increase on bakery products. How sad, our pandesal is getting smaller and smaller, and yet getting even more expensive. And how ironic, that even if we have a strong peso now, the prices are still up. Oh, yeah, the economics of supply and demand – the holidays are just around the corner and there’s too much money in circulation… But one thing that struck me about the news is that, many wheat fields around the world are getting smaller and smaller because growers give way to corn for biofuel. This issue has been featured in an international magazine almost two years ago, but at that time, I wasn’t feeling yet the impact on a more profound level.

What now is the solution? Is there any close substitute for wheat for our glorious breads, pastries, croissants, etc? Will I really have my wedding cake made with potato flour? But why not….

Anyway, this chain of information again gets me to think of my thesis in international food trade. I think of China, one of the country’s main partners in milled flour trade. I think of how it feeds its people. But what if China stops shipping to us precious flour because it has to prioritize its own people?

Sometimes I put myself in the shoes of a bakery entrepreneur. When local supplies are ravaged by high prices and your business is confronted with many competitors, you think of sharpening your spear and stay in the bloodshed for the mammoth market money. Or pack up and find where those elusive green pastures are.

1 comment:

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