Food Inflation Could Reach 4% in U.S.

Personally, I eat more beef than Dr. Atkins trapped in a meat locker, so this is not encouraging news from Businessweek. But it’s news nonetheless, especially considering Indiana’s strong ties to the pork industry:

U.S. food costs will rise 3 percent to 4 percent this year, unchanged from February’s estimate, according to the Department of Agriculture. The increase would be the fastest since 2008.

Forecasts were raised for meat, eggs, vegetables and fats and oils. Prices for pork may climb as much as 7 percent, the biggest gain in any category, the USDA said today in a report. The department also raised its projection for food consumed at home by 0.5 percentage point, to a range of 3.5 to 4.5 percent.

“Recent food-commodity price increases, along with grocery-store price increases over the past few months,” have pushed up forecasts, Ephraim Leibtag, a USDA economist, said in a note accompanying the report.

Global food prices rose 25 percent last year and set a record last month, according to the United Nations. Riots prompted partly by rising costs have toppled governments in Egypt and Tunisia and contributed to unrest in other parts of northern Africa and the Middle East.

Expenses likely will continue to rise this year because of higher oil prices and smaller harvests, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said March 9.

Good News (Not a Trick, There Really Is Some Out There)

It seems bad news abounds these days. Skyrocketing health care costs. Escalating deficits. Reality television is still here. But it’s not all bad. The Colts are 12-0. The economy is due to pick up (any day now…). And hey, there’s at least a 65% chance you’re not one of Tiger Woods’ mistresses.

Even better, the National Center for Policy Analysis has summarized a post from The American illustrating there’s still hope for the old U.S. of A. Check it out:

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Life expectancy for Americans reached an all-time high of nearly 78 years (77.9) in 2007 (most recent data available), the age-adjusted death rate dropped to a new all-time low, and life expectancy for black males reached a new record of 70 years.
  • Compared to the life expectancy in 1929 of only 57.1 years, the average American today can expect to live almost 21 years longer.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture:

  • Food expenditures by families and individuals (both at home and at restaurants) as a share of disposable personal income reached an all-time record low of 9.6 percent in 2008.
  • Spending on food as a share of income was twice that high in the 1950s (average of 19.3 percent), and almost three times as high in the early 1930s.

According to data from the Energy Information Administration:

  • The energy consumption required (measured in thousands of British thermal units) to produce a real dollar of output (Gross Domestic Product) fell to an all-time record low of 8.52 in 2008.
  • Compared to 1970 when it took 18 Btus to produce a real dollar of GDP, today’s economy is more than twice as energy-efficient.