Food prices could take a considerable jump next year due to a weather pattern and much to the dismay of liberals and environmentalists, it isn’t going to be global warming.
It is being predicted that 2018 will see the return of La Niña which could have a detrimental effect on crops from soybeans to corn to wheat and other grains, especially in Latin America where it is expected to be problematic for farmers.
A weather phenomenon that has wreaked havoc on commodity prices in the past could return in 2018: La Niña https://t.co/lCnUwi7Op5
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 31, 2017
Via the Wall Street Journal “From Soybeans to Corn, La Niña Could Shake Up Agricultural Markets in 2018”:
A weather phenomenon that has wreaked havoc on commodity prices in the past could return in 2018.
Indicators currently suggest a 75% probability of a La Niña in the coming months, according to Stefan Vogel, head of Rabobank’s agricultural commodity markets research team. The weather pattern could inject volatility into markets like grains, soybeans and palm oil next year.
La Niña is characterized by cooler-than-normal waters in tropical Pacific Ocean regions, which results in more precipitation in Southeast Asia and eastern Australia, according to Kyle Tapley, a senior agricultural meteorologist at MDA Weather Services.
The same conditions also lead to drier weather in southern Brazil, eastern Argentina and the southern U.S., he said. These areas set for dryness also happen to be critical to the global supply chain of grains and oilseeds.
If La Niña materializes, investors of such markets could be jolted, analysts say.
The last severe La Niña was in 2012 and caused a record-breaking heat wave and drought across the U.S. Midwest, Mr. Vogel said in a note. It eventually drove prices up to $18 a bushel for soybeans and $8 a bushel for corn, according to him. Soybeans’ average price over the past five years has been 38% below that level; corn’s has been 39% below its 2012 high. A return to those levels would constitute an 87% gain for soybeans and a 130% jump for corn.
“We see an environment far more conducive for both prices and volatility to pick up,” said Tracey Allen, J.P. Morgan Securities’ agricultural commodities strategist.
La Niña conditions already have arrived, though they need to persist for a month before the weather pattern can be confirmed. South American farmers are seeing the effects, with climate shifts in Argentina and a drier outlook emerging in southern Brazil, Ms. Allen said.
Some additional information on La Niñas via USA TODAY:
Texas A&M University agricultural economist Bruce McCarl said La Niña years are often bad for agriculture in Texas and the surrounding region. U.S. production of most crops — except corn — generally goes down in La Niña years, according to research by McCarl.
Globally, La Niña often brings heavy rainfall to Indonesia, the Philippines, northern Australia and southern Africa.
The entire natural climate cycle is officially known as the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a see-saw dance of warmer and cooler seawater in the central Pacific Ocean.
Rising prices, particularly with corn or wheat, would have a ripple effect with both crops being of huge importance to feeding people as well as such byproducts as ethanol.