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全球糧食危機籠罩糧食價格飆升

Global food crisis looms as grain prices soar
By Veronica Brown and Nigel Hunt
LONDON — What looks to be the worst U.S. drought in a quarter of a century has given rise to an old-fashioned commodity rally on world markets, with key grain prices hitting highs which caused food crises in vulnerable parts of the globe last time around.

Seeking to protect their populations from hunger this time, many countries relying heavily on imports have held off for now, touting healthy stock levels and hoping other sources will come through and bring prices down.

But their hopes may be dashed if they all return to market at once.

With so much of the world putting faith in a record U.S. corn crop, it is little wonder that prices have surged around 40 percent in the past three weeks as relentless dry weather melted yield expectations for cereals. Soybeans are at record highs, while wheat is not far behind.

"Production potential looked great and it kind of lulled these end-users into a false sense of security. At that point we were seriously looking at (corn) prices under $5 if weather conditions remained ideal, but now we've rallied sharply higher and never looked back," Jefferies Bache analyst Shawn McCambridge said.

Now, corn futures contracts backed by the 2012 harvest are above $7 a bushel and climbing fast.

Traders said consumers in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East had pulled back on regular purchases, expecting prices to cool off.

"This to me is a time bomb. I am routinely one of the more bearish people but it wouldn't surprise me if corn traded at $10," the trader added.

There are several parallels between the current state of play and food crises of the past few years, including scorching weather, wilting crops and sky-rocketing prices. Just substitute 2012's U.S. drought and corn for 2010's Russian crop failure.

Similarities can also be found on the macro front - 2008, when prices were last at these levels, saw a mushrooming financial crisis culminate in the failure of Lehman Brothers, and now Europe's debt crisis has left the euro zone precariously balanced, with other regions also on edge.

The uncertainty has led to swings in all the markets this time as then, but the simple common denominator of supply and demand has been the driving force of the latest grain price spike, with weather the only fundamental that matters.
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Such frenzied buying leads ultimately to additional food inflation and domestic price rises can be a tipping point in countries with already struggling populations.

Buyers watch and wait 
State buyers from the top importing countries, including Egypt and Iran, China and India are sanguine so far, united in delivering a message of comfort in domestic stock levels and ability to sit out the current price surge.

Leading wheat buyer Egypt, importing more than 10 million tonnes per year, has said it has a strategic stock of about six months plus to last until January.

"Of course entering the markets for August shipment isn't likely now and that's because our local purchases leave us in a very comfortable position," Nomani Nomani, vice chairman of the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) said last week.

In Asia, top grain consumers China and India have ample stocks of wheat and rice, thanks to near-record harvests in the last few years. U.S. corn export sources also noted that China and South Korea were ahead of the curve, booking larger shipments in anticipation of supply problems and high prices.

The surge in prices has revived memories of the 2007/08 food crisis which the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated added 75 million to the number of chronically hungry people in the world. Other estimates put the increase at up to 160 million.

The International Grains Council's Grains and Oilseeeds Index, a weighted average of prices for wheat, corn, soybeans, soymeal, rice, barley, sorghum and rapeseed, rose this week to its highest level since July 2008.

While grain stocks currently stand 25 percent higher compared with 2008, according to IGC data, the devil is in the detail as China now has a large holding of wheat and corn and is unlikely to release it onto international markets.

Consumption of grains has steadily increased in recent years. The IGC forecast earlier this month it would rise by 1.8 percent in 2012/13 (July/June) boosted by increased meat consumption, particularly in developing countries.

Trade sources say Iran, while resting from a sanction-busting led shopping spree earlier this year and counting its domestic harvest, is checking international prices daily with a view to major purchases of grain.

Talks on multi-million tonne barter wheat deals with India and Pakistan have hit a wall and their failure will only intensify the country's purchasing needs.

Sticking with the Middle-East, crisis-torn Syria is in a chronic state, with the unintended impact of sanctions against the Assad regime leaving it unable to trade in big enough amounts to satisfy its grain import requirement of about 3 million tonnes.

Attempts at deals have failed repeatedly, with prices rising all the while.

"With the economy already a major concern, soaring grain prices will heap more and more pressure on the Syrian government. Forex reserves are at new lows and decreasing at a faster rate as commerce and the ability to collect taxes decreases," said Alan Fraser, Middle East analyst with security firm AKE.


Thailand, Asia's biggest exporter of frozen chicken, expects higher prices of corn and soybeans to stoke food inflation as the cost of feeding animals climbs.

"We are now facing higher cost of feedstuff and we expect to see a rise of 5-10 percent in food prices in the fourth quarter of the year," said Pornsil Patchrintanakul, deputy secretary-general of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

On corn, importers are taking a certain amount of comfort from Brazil's record harvest. But there are caveats.

"Brazil has a record corn crop. They're expected to export 14 million metric tons. But there's going to be a lot of competition for that cheaper Brazilian corn," said Bill Tierney, chief economist with Chicago-based AgResource Company.

Bulging demand pipeline 
Parking on the sidelines to avoid the sting of higher prices seems like a sensible tactic

Morocco is currently reluctant to buy, but faces its highest cereal import needs in three decades due to a poor domestic harvest. The north African country's cereals crop fell from 8.4 million tonnes in 2011 to 5.1 million tonnes this year.

"Buyers have been rejecting offers in the last couple of weeks expecting prices to come down," a Singapore-based grain trader said. "We have seen it in South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam but how long can they wait?"

Buyers will do their best to hold out for the release of new crop grain in September and October from multiple sources including Eastern Europe, with Black Sea countries having forged a place on international markets as key suppliers of grain at cheap prices.

However those origins are also under pressure.

Hot and dry weather has forced Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to reduce their harvest forecasts and the region's total grain output could be at least 35 million tonnes less than in 2011.

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蔬菜對溫度日照條件的要求

蔬菜對溫度日照條件的要求
全日照  8個小時日照 瓜類、茄果類、豆類、山藥、豆薯(地瓜)。番茄、黃瓜、茄子、辣椒等喜溫中、強光性
蔬菜夏秋季生產,玉米、青椒、西瓜、南瓜、西紅柿、茄子、芝麻、向日葵類。
其次是根莖類,如:馬鈴薯、甜菜、胡蘿蔔、白蘿蔔、甘藷、山藥等等。至少需半日照,才能生長,芋頭雖喜歡全日照,但比其他蔬菜耐蔭。 
需要中等光照大白菜、甘藍、芥菜、蒜、洋蔥。 

長日性蔬菜白菜、甘藍、芥菜、蘿蔔、胡蘿蔔、芹菜、菠菜、萵苣、蠶豆、豌豆、大蔥、洋蔥。

短日性蔬菜豇豆、扁豆、莧菜、空心菜。         

中光性蔬菜黃瓜、番茄、茄子、辣椒、菜豆

菜豆

菜豆喜溫暖,不耐高溫和霜凍。菜豆種子發芽的適溫為20-30℃;在40℃以上的高溫和10℃以下的低溫,種子不易發芽。幼苗生長適宜氣溫為18-25℃。花芽分化的適宜氣溫為20-25℃,過高或過低溫度易出現發育不完全的花蕾、落花。

菜豆對光照強度的要求較高。在適宜溫度條件下,光照充足則植株生長健壯,莖的節間短而分枝多,開花結莢比較多,而且有利於根部對磷肥的吸收。當光照強度減弱時,植株易徒長,莖的節間長,分枝少,葉質薄,而且開花結莢數少,易落花落莢。

菜豆根系強大,能耐一定程度乾旱,但喜中度濕潤土壤條件,要求水分供應適中,不耐澇。生長期適宜土壤濕度為田間最大持水量的60%-70%,空氣相對濕度以80%為宜。開花結莢期對水分最敏感,此期土壤乾旱對開花結莢有不良影響,開花數、結莢數及莢內種子數減少。土壤水分過大時,下部葉片黃化,早脫落。空氣濕度過大會引起徒長、結莢不良。

菜豆具有深根性和根瘤菌,對土壤的要求不甚嚴格,但仍以土層深厚肥沃、排水良好的輕砂壤土或粘質壤土為好。土壤過於粘重、低溫、排水和通氣不良則生長不良,炭疽病重。菜豆喜中性至微酸性土壤,適宜的土壤pH為5-7.0,其中以州6.2-6.8最適宜。菜豆最忌連作,生產中應實行2-3年輪作。

菜豆生育過程中,主要吸收鉀和氮較多,還要吸收一定量的磷和鈣,才能良好發育。結莢期吸收磷鉀量較大。磷鉀肥對菜豆植株的生長發育、根瘤菌的發育、花芽分化、開花結莢和種子的發育等均有影響。缺乏磷肥,菜豆嫩莢和種子的品質和產量就會降低。缺鈣,幼葉葉片捲曲,葉緣失綠和生長點死亡。缺硼,則根係不發達,影響根瘤菌固氮,使花和豆莢發育不良。 耐陰半陰(大概3-4小時日照) 應選擇耐陰的蔬菜種植,如萵…

黑檸檬

黑檸檬
Dried lemons are actually limes and are used heavily in Persian Gulf and also Iranian cuisine where they add a strong bitter flavor in addition to sourness. They are made by boiling ripe limes in salt water, and then sun drying until the insides turn black. The outside color varies from tan to black. They are sold whole or ground.

Black Lime is a spice used in Middle Eastern dishes. It is made by boiling fresh lime in salt water and sun drying until the insides turn black. The outside color varies from tan to black. It is sold whole or ground.

黑檸檬實際上是使用萊姆,並且在波斯灣和伊朗料理中被大量使用,除了酸味外,它們還添加了強烈的苦味。它們是利用鹽水煮成熟萊姆,然後曬乾,直到內部變黑。外部顏色從棕褐色變化到黑色。他們可以整顆或切片販售。
黑檸檬是用於中東菜餚的香料。它是通過在鹽水中煮沸新鮮的檸檬並經天然乾燥,直到內部變黑。外觀從棕褐色變成黑色。
USE Black limes are usually used in legume, seafood or meat dishes. They are pierced, peeled or crushed before adding them to the dish. After cooking they become softer and edible. They can also be powdered and added to rice dishes. Powdered black lime is also used as an ingredient in Gulf-…

為何冰箱冷凍室非得是零下18度?

為何冰箱冷凍室非得是零下18度? 不少家庭的冰箱有led面板,可顯示冷藏室和冷凍室溫度。每次看到那個零下18℃,不少人,包括筆者在內就會禁不住提出一個小疑問:為什麼冷凍室溫度非得是零下18℃?最多零下1℃不就結冰了嗎?搞這麼低溫度實在是浪費電呢。

聰明如很多人是這樣推測的

百思不得其解,於是很多人,包括筆者在內就開始推測後面的機制了。冷凍室的零下18℃其實不費電,相反,它是節約電力的一個好措施。為何?

冰箱隔一段時間,內部溫度升高後,它就要啟動壓縮機,嗡嗡嗡的。頻繁啟動壓縮機不僅耗電,冰箱的壽命也會降低,還有就是很吵人。怎麼辦?簡單,先把冷凍室的溫度搞得低低的,比如零下18℃左右。


然後,冷凍室的冷氣往上走,來到冷藏室,如此,就能長時間保持冷藏室的溫度處於0到8℃以內了。

待冷凍室的冷氣散失過多,溫度升高到零下幾度時,再啟動冰箱的壓縮機把溫度再次降到零下18℃,如此,冰箱的啟動次數就變少了。

實際是這樣嗎?很遺憾,不是。

原因之一:不一樣的水

水到零度以下就結冰了,這是絕大多數人的認識。然而仔細一想,這不適用於冰箱的冷凍室。因為冷凍室存放的不是上百升礦泉水,而是各種各樣的食物。

食物中含有大量水這沒錯,但這些水同時含有大量的鹽、糖等物質。就像每1升海水中大約含有35克鹽,所以平均起來,要到零下1.33℃時海水才會結冰。

因此,要想把食物凍結,並不是溫度只要達到水的冰點就可以,得保證足夠低的溫度,食物中的水才能凍結,這很重要,因為食物中只要有液態水存在,這就等於是為各種細菌的繁殖提供了必備條件。

圖為牛肉薄片在不同溫度和不同時間內測得的牛肉中凍結水量的曲線。

當牛肉薄片的溫度為零下4℃時,只有70%的水分被凍結;溫度下降到零下9℃左右時,也還有3%的水分未凍結;即使牛肉薄片的溫度降低到零下18℃時,也不是100%的水分都被凍結住。

原因之二:嗜冷微生物

根據微生物對不同溫度的適應範圍,可將微生物分為三大類,嗜熱菌、嗜溫菌和嗜冷菌。在食物的冷藏和冷凍過程中,我們面對的「敵人」是嗜溫菌和嗜冷菌。

一般來說,能引起食物腐敗和食物致毒的嗜溫菌,在低於3 ℃情況下不產生毒素,當然,個別菌種例外。

而對於嗜冷菌,一般得在零下10 ℃到零下12 ℃時才會停止生長。

有的黴菌甚至要到零下15~零下18 ℃時才會停止生長。

瞧,我們以為,零下幾攝氏度後微生物就被殺死或停止繁殖了,但…