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di 01 mar 2011, 05:32

The price of food is at the heart of this wave of revolutions

No one saw the uprisings coming, but their deeper cause isn't hard to fathom

By Peter Popham
Sunday, 27 February 2011
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 26896.html


Revolution is breaking out all over. As Gaddafi marshals his thugs and mercenaries for a last-ditch fight in Tripoli, several died as protests grew more serious in Iraq. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah tried to bribe his people into docility by splashing out $35bn on housing, social services and education. Across the water in Bahrain the release of political prisoners failed to staunch the uprising. In Iran, President Ahmadinejad crowed about chaos in the Arab world, but said nothing about the seething anger in his own backyard; in Yemen, the opposition gathers strength daily.

And it's not just the Middle East. This is an African crisis: Tunisia, where it started, is an African country, and last week in Senegal, a desperate army veteran died after setting fire to himself in front of the presidential palace, emulating Mohamed Bouazizi, the market trader whose self-immolation sparked the revolution in Tunisia. Meanwhile, the spirit of revolt has already leapt like a forest fire to half a dozen other ill-governed African nations, with serious disturbances reported in Mauritania, Gabon, Cameroon and Zimbabwe.

Nowhere is immune: dozens of activists in China are in detention or under other forms of surveillance, and the LinkedIn network was shut down as authorities seek to stamp out Middle East-style protests there. In what is arguably the most repressive state on the planet, North Korea, the army was called out and five died in the northern city of Sinuiju after violent protests erupted there and in two other cities. The generals who rule Burma under a trashy façade of constitutional government were keeping a close eye on the Middle East, ready to lock up Aung San Suu Kyi again at the first sign of copycat disturbances.

Nowhere is immune to this wave of rebellion because globalisation is a fact; all the world's markets are intricately interlinked, and woe in one place quickly translates into fury in another. Twenty years ago, things were more manageable. When grain production collapsed in the Soviet Union during the 1980s and what had been one of the world's greatest grain exporters became a net importer, the resulting surges of anger brought down the whole Communist system within a couple of years – but stopped there. Today there are no such firebreaks, and thanks to digital communications, events happen much faster.

Why are all these revolutions happening now? Plenty of answers have been offered: the emergence of huge urban populations with college degrees but no prospect of work; the accumulation of decades of resentment at rulers who are "authoritarian familial kleptocracies delivering little to their people", as Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation put it; the subversive role of Facebook and Twitter, fatally undermining the state's systems of thought control.

Absent from this list – to the combined bewilderment and relief of the US and Europe – are the factors that were universally supposed to be driving populist politics in the Middle East: Islamic fundamentalism coupled with anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism. As one Egyptian pointed out after the fall of Mubarak, at no point during weeks of passionate revolt did either the Israeli or the US embassies become a target of the crowd's fury, even though both are within easy reach of Tahrir Square. "Not so much as a Coke can was thrown over the wall," he said.

Of course, that does not mean that allies of al-Qa'ida will not seek to exploit the growing chaos in Libya in particular, striving to turn it into a new Somalia-sur-Med. Nor does it guarantee that any of the other revolts will produce stable democracies. Because the real cause of these revolutions, beyond all the chatter about social networks, is a problem that is liable to get worse in coming years rather than better, and that is largely beyond the power of anyone to contain or control.

The first warnings of what was to come appeared in the form of a briefing paper on the website of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation in December. "Recent bouts of extreme price volatility in global agricultural markets," it said, "portend rising and more frequent threats to world food security. There is emerging consensus that the global food system is becoming more vulnerable and susceptible to episodes of extreme price volatility. As markets are increasingly integrated in the world economy, shocks in the international arena can now transpire and propagate to domestic markets much quicker than before."

The "shocks" all occurred a long way from Cairo and Tunis. They included fires in Russia last autumn which wiped out hundreds of thousands of acres of grain; heavy rains in Canada, destroying the wheat crop there; hot, dry weather in Argentina which destroyed the soybean crop; the Australian floods which ruined the wheat harvest. The Middle East accounts for one-third of worldwide wheat imports. The combined effect of these far-flung agricultural problems was to bump up the food price index by 32 per cent in the second half of 2010.

The FAO likens "extreme price volatility" to great natural disasters – major earthquakes, tsunamis, catastrophic cyclones. "Historically, bouts of such extreme volatility... have been rare," they say. "To draw the analogy with natural disasters, they typically have a low possibility of occurrence but bring with them extremely high risks and potential costs to society."

A similar chain of unconnected farming catastrophes in early 2008 led to a similar outbreak of "extreme price volatility" around the world which provoked food riots in more than 40 countries, from Haiti to Bangladesh, including Mexico, Uzbekistan and Eritrea but also involving several countries caught up in the present round of uprisings, including Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Zimbabwe. All were among the 80 countries around the world that combine low incomes with food deficits – the need to import food, bringing exposure to wildly fluctuating world market prices. In these poor countries, food purchases can consume 70 per cent of income. The result, when prices of flour and grains shoot up by 30 per cent, is extreme distress – the sort of distress that sends people out into the streets in fury.

Abdolreza Abbassian, FAO's chief economist saw – in his dry, cautious, academic manner – the present turmoil coming. "It's getting a little bit uncomfortable," he said back in December. "A lot of countries, especially the poorer ones, have to rely so much on world markets. They have to import food at much higher prices. Whether or not this will lead to domestic problems, turmoil, demonstrations, riots, the kind of things we saw in 2008, it is not possible to predict."

For the poor of the Middle East, the price shocks at the start of this year were like experiencing a second killer earthquake in three years – but unlike with an earthquake, there was someone you could blame. So angry were the food price protesters in Tunisia that, after Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali declared a state of emergency and promised to reduce the price of food. But it was too little, too late: by mid-January he was gone.

Tunisia's turmoil, warned The Washington Post as the toppled president flew off into exile, "has economists worried that we may be seeing the beginning of a second wave of global food riots". As we know now, it turned out somewhat differently. Food riots in 2008, revolutions in 2011 – what, where, who is next?
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wo 02 mar 2011, 06:45

Supermarkets warned of food price inquiry

UK food inflation hit an annual rate of 4.6% in February, against a eurozone average of 1.5%, and UBS has said politicians could take action

Graeme Wearden
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 March 2011 08.06 GMT
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011 ... ce-inquiry

Britain's supermarkets could face a government inquiry for raising food prices above the rate of inflation, City experts have warned.

Investment bank UBS predicted on Monday that the supermarket sector could be investigated for pushing up UK food prices faster than in the rest of Europe. UBS suggested that major retailers may be increasing their profit margins from food sales, which could prompt politicians to take action.

"UK food prices are rising more rapidly than most other OECD economies' food prices and have significantly outstripped food retailers' cost inflation," analysts at the Swiss bank said in a report. "This could allow UK politicians to suggest that food price inflation is 'unfair' or 'excessive'."

UK food inflation hit an annual rate of 4.6% in February, its highest level for 18 months and much higher than the eurozone average of 1.5%. The rising cost of food on the shelves is one factor that has driven overall UK inflation to twice the official target.

UBS said: "After two years during which processed food prices have been rising more than 50% faster than the associated costs, and at a time when food prices have heightened political importance, it seems unlikely that this position will continue to be ignored."

Retailers have blamed the weaker pound for pushing up food import costs, and deny allegations that they are "ripping off" the public. The British Retail Consortium argued that supermarkets are actually protecting customers from the full impact of global food inflation.
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wo 02 mar 2011, 19:55

Anger over rising India food prices

Food grains are ironically rotting in warehouses as hunger stalks millions hit by high inflation.

Last Modified: 28 Feb 2011
http://english.aljazeera.net/video/asia ... 42668.html


Pranab Mukherjee, India's finance minister, has presented his annual budget, acknowledging that food inflation is still a major concern for the second most populous country in the world.

On Monday, Mukherjee announced a food security bill for 2011 - 2012, a measure that would provide cheap grains for millions of India's poor.

However, the announcement has sparked worries of a huge fiscal cost.

In a pilot programme, the minister said some subsidies for food and fuel would be directly given as cash to customers starting in March 2011.

The move is aimed at making the subsidies system more efficient with less waste.

In addition to being popular with voters, food and fuel subsidies help offset inflation but add to India's fiscal burden.

India faces huge inflation, which has drawn criticism from the opposition.

Anger has also been rising over food supplies in the country's streets as millions go hungry, while some food supplies have been rotting in warehouses.

Deutsche Bank forecast that subsidies in the current fiscal year would reach 2.5 per cent of GDP, above New Delhi's target of 1.8 per cent.

And it expects the subsidy burden in the next fiscal year ending in March 2012 to rise to 3 per cent of GDP.

Al Jazeera's Prerna Suri reports from New Delhi.
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vr 04 mar 2011, 00:44

World Food Prices Increase to a Record, United Nations Says

By Rudy Ruitenberg - Mar 3, 2011
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-0 ... tages.html

World food prices rose to a record in February and grain costs may continue to rise in the next several months, with only rice keeping the world from a repeat of the crisis three years ago, the United Nations said.

An index of 55 food commodities rose 2.2 percent to 236 points from 230.7 in January, the eighth consecutive gain, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said today. Wheat rose as much as 58 percent on the Chicago Board of Trade in the past 12 months, corn gained 87 percent and rice added 6.5 percent.

“I’ve never loved rice more than now,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the FAO in Rome. “Probably rice is the commodity which is separating us from a food crisis.”

Rising food costs contributed to riots across North Africa and the Middle East in the last several months that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. Prices surged as bad weather ruined crops from Canada to Australia and Russia banned grain exports after its worst drought in a half century.

Global food prices probably will rise in the first half of this century because of an expanding population and higher incomes, slower crop-yield growth and the effect of climate change, Ross Garnaut, the Australian government’s climate-change adviser, said yesterday.

More People


Food production will have to climb by 70 percent between 2010 and 2050 as the world population expands to 9 billion and rising incomes boost meat and dairy consumption, the FAO forecasts. Producing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pig meat can take 3.5 kilograms of feed, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows.

The UN’s food-price index rose from 176 points from a year earlier, with all five food groups advancing. The dairy index climbed to 230 points in February from 221.3 in January.

Milk futures traded in Chicago jumped 15 percent last month following a 26 percent surge in January, the biggest monthly gain since March 2004. Whole-milk powder prices rose to a record in its biweekly auction, Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., the world’s biggest dairy exporter, said March 1.

The FAO’s sugar-price index slipped to 418 points from a record 420.2 points in the previous month. The UN agency’s index is trade-weighted, with the sweetener accounting for 7 percent. Raw-sugar prices climbed 37 percent in New York in the past year.

Meat Prices

The gauge for meat, which makes up 35 percent of the overall index, rose to 169 points from 165.9 points. Meat is a “significant” part of the diet in developed countries, which may see more inflation from food than in 2007-08, according to Ken Ash, trade and agriculture director at the OECD.

A gauge of cooking oils and fats gained to 279 points from 277.7, the FAO said. Its cereal-price index climbed to 254 points from 244.8 in January, below the peak level of 274.3 in April 2008, the report showed.

Countries probably spent at least $1 trillion on food imports in 2010, with the poorest paying as much as 20 percent more than in 2009, the UN has said. Surging food and energy costs are stoking emerging-market inflation and have the power to topple governments, Nouriel Roubini, the New York University economist who predicted the financial crisis, said Jan. 26.

Food prices’ effect on poor consumers is less severe than three years ago, when costs also surged, because rice rose less than other grains, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Rice is the staple food of more than half of the world population, according to the International Rice Research Institute.

Thai grade-B white rice, the Asian benchmark, dropped almost 3 percent from a year ago to $533 a ton this week, according to the Thai Rice Exporters Association. Rice from Thailand, the world’s largest exporter of the grain, reached $1,038 a ton in May 2008.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.
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do 10 mar 2011, 04:01

Food prices in Britain are rising three times faster than G7 nations

By Sean Poulter
Last updated at 3:33 PM on 9th March 2011
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... tions.html


Food prices in Britain are rising at three times the rate of the world’s seven biggest economies.

Figures from the OECD put UK food inflation at 6.3 per cent, well ahead of the average of 2.1 per cent for the G7 group of nations.

The cost of putting meals on the table is also rising much faster than most of Europe.

The average annual rise in Ireland is only 0.3 per cent, while it is running at 0.1 per cent in France, 0.8 per cent in the Netherlands and 2.1 per cent in Belgium.

The figures will anger British shoppers amid mounting suspicion that UK supermarkets are turning the screw on consumers to boost profits.

The OECD said only Turkey, Estonia, Hungary and Korea had a higher rate of food price inflation among the 34 countries it surveyed.

There is a suggestion that the ‘big four’ supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – have used concerns about increasing global commodity prices to push through unfair increases.

Research by analysts at UBS shows commodity inflation would justify a 3 to 3.5 per cent rise in processed food prices, but UK supermarkets have lifted prices by 6 to 6.5 per cent.

Economists Paul Donovan and Larry Hatheway, who co-wrote the report, said: ‘Prices are rising in excess of justifiable cost increases.

‘The UK stands out as having the broadest range of food price increases.’

The big supermarkets and their trade body, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), insist they are protecting shoppers against the worst effects of commodity price rises.

However, that is at odds with figures showing record profits over the past two years, raising millions of pounds to build hundreds of new outlets.

Industry research suggests that many promotions being offered by the big supermarkets are not what they seem.

Virtually every price cut is matched by increases on other products.

A report published by the BRC today claims high street food price inflation was 4.5 per cent in February, down marginally from 4.6 per cent in January.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: ‘Food inflation appears to have stabilised for now despite on-going pressure from soaring global commodity costs.

‘The small fall compared with January shows retailers are doing everything they can to keep price rises to a minimum.

‘This is demonstrated by the record proportion of groceries on promotion or discount, currently 39 per cent.’

The BRC puts shop price inflation for all goods at 2.7 per cent in February, up from 2.5 per cent in January.

Mr Robertson added: ‘January’s VAT rise is starting to have an impact on non-food prices, pushing up overall inflation compared with the previous month.

‘Even so, non-food inflation would be much higher if the full impact of the VAT rise had been passed on to customers.

‘In fact, strong competition for business is still producing price falls in some areas, such as electricals and clothing.

‘Increased fuel costs and rising energy bills are eating into household budgets.

‘The good news is tough retail competition is keeping shop price inflation well below the wider Consumer Price Index.’
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do 07 apr 2011, 14:24

Boodschappen flink duurder

Uitgegeven: 7 april 2011 07:10
Laatst gewijzigd: 7 april 2011 07:12

http://www.nu.nl/economie/2486219/boods ... urder.html


AMSTERDAM - De prijzen in de supermarkt zijn de afgelopen maanden flink omhoog gegaan. Vooral voor verse artikelen als aardappelen en vlees moesten klanten dieper in de buidel tasten.


In februari stegen die prijzen met tien procent, schrijft De Telegraaf donderdag op basis van onderzoek van GfK.

Ook de prijzen van pasta, koffie en rijst liggen met vijf procent fors hoger dan in januari. Volgens GfK-directeur Joop Holla komt dat mede doordat januari doorgaans een promotiemaand is met veel aanbiedingen.

"Supers durfden toen de prijzen niet te verhogen. Maar ook zonder dat effect kan je zeggen dat er nu sprake is van een trendbreuk. De boodschappen worden echt duurder."

Supermarkten moeten hun prijzen volgens de krant verhogen omdat de inkoopkosten ook steeds hoger worden. Fabrikanten krijgen te maken met hogere grondstofprijzen en berekenen dat door aan de winkels.
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do 14 apr 2011, 19:30

Ongeregeldheden bij demonstraties Uganda

Uitgegeven: 14 april 2011 12:33
Laatst gewijzigd: 14 april 2011 13:04

http://www.nu.nl/buitenland/2492144/ong ... ganda.html


AMSTERDAM - In Uganda is een protest tegen stijgende brandstof- en voedselprijzen hardhandig de kop in de gedrukt. Oppositiepoliticus Kizza Besigye is gewond geraakt toen militairen het vuur openden op demonstranten in de hoofdstad Kampala.

Dat melden diverse internationale media donderdag.

Volgens de Britse omroep BBC probeerde de politie aanvankelijk om Besigye te arresteren, maar lukte dat niet omdat aanhangers van de oppositieleider als een schild om hem heen bleven staan. Ooggetuigen melden dat het leger daarop ingreep en Besigye in de arm schoot en hem meenam.

Het is de tweede keer deze week dat demonstranten in de hoofdstad Kampala de straat op zijn gegaan. Donderdagmorgen namen honderden mensen deel aan een geplande protestmars, aldus een ooggetuige van persbureau Reuters. Politiemensen hebben de betoging afgebroken door traangas in te zetten.

Besigye werd maandag tijdens protesten ook al aangehouden.

Verkiezingen

Besigye was bij de presidentsverkiezingen in februari de belangrijkste uitdager van president Yoweri Museveni. Hij heeft die stembusstrijd oneerlijk genoemd.

De Ugandese politie heeft demonstraties verboden. Zij waarschuwde vorige week dat tegen alle betogingen ''standvastig'' zou worden opgetreden.
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do 14 apr 2011, 19:33

'Boodschappen 640 miljoen duurder bij hoge btw'
Uitgegeven: 14 april 2011 12:13
Laatst gewijzigd: 14 april 2011 14:04

http://www.nu.nl/geldzaken/2492119/bood ... e-btw.html


LEIDSCHENDAM - Het Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel (CBL), is ''mordicus tegen verhoging van het btw-tarief op levensmiddelen''. Het tarief is nu 6 procent.


Verhoging naar 8 procent betekent volgens de brancheorganisatie van supermarkten dat de dagelijkse boodschappen 640 miljoen euro per jaar duurder worden.

Het CBL noemt het onbegrijpelijk dat staatssecretaris Frans Weekers met zulke plannen komt ''in deze tijd waarin veel mensen moeite hebben rond te komen''.

Het kabinet wil de belasting op arbeid verlagen en tegelijk de belasting op consumptie verhogen.

Verhoging

De staatssecretaris wil de maatregelen geleidelijk invoeren, te beginnen bij een ''beperkte verhoging'' van het verlaagde btw-tarief met 2 procentpunt naar 8 procent. Dat moet het kabinet ongeveer 1,4 miljard euro opleveren.

Alleen voor voedingsmiddelen kan bij wijze van uitzondering het lage tarief blijven gelden. Het geopperde uniforme btw-tarief van 19 procent (zelfde als huidige algemene tarief) moet dan wel worden verhoogd om eenzelfde opbrengst te halen, aldus Weekers.

Werkgevers

Ook werkgeversorganisaties VNO-NCW en MKB Nederland niets in de plannen. Dat is volgens hen schadelijk voor consument en bedrijfsleven en komt bovendien op een moment dat het herstel van de crisis veel bedrijven nog niet heeft bereikt, aldus de werkgeversorganisaties.

Zij waarschuwen dat het effect van de verschuiving niet moet worden overschat. ''Een verhoging van de kosten van levensonderhoud doet de voordelen van verlaging van de inkomstenbelasting weer teniet.''

Laag inkomen

FNV en CNV zijn wel blij met het verlagen van de belasting op arbeid, maar vragen zich wel af hoe een hoger btw-tarief uitpakt voor met name mensen met een laag inkomen.

Een lagere inkomstenbelasting betekent dat mensen meer overhouden, aldus de FNV, die ook blij is dat de progressieve lijn in de belastingheffing overeind blijft.

Voor CNV-voorzitter Jaap Smit is ''alles wat helpt de werkgelegenheid te stimuleren zeer welkom''. En wanneer de kosten van arbeid lager worden, stimuleert dat de werkgelegenheid. De keerzijde is een hogere btw. Smit wil eerst zien hoe de plannen uitpakken.

Kamermeerderheid


Een Kamermeerderheid van in elk geval PVV, CDA, PvdA en SP is tegen een verhoging van de btw op eerste levensbehoeften

''Als Weekers voorstelt om het toptarief en de winstbelasting voor bedrijven te verlagen in tijden van bezuinigingen en dit wil financieren door een hoger btw-tarief voor de gewone man, Henk en Ingrid, dan is dat onbespreekbaar'', stelde Geert Wilders van gedoogpartij de PVV.

CDA

Ook regeringspartij het CDA waarschuwde. ''We gaan niet de zaterdagse boodschappen bij de Aldi of Albert Heijn 10 euro duurder maken om het hoogste belastingtarief te kunnen verlagen. Kom ons niet aan de boodschappenkar'', zei Pieter Omtzigt.

SP-leider Emile Roemer sprak van ''keiharde koopkrachtvernietiging en een ordinaire winkelwagenbelasting''. Ook de PvdA accepteert een verhoging van de btw op levensmiddelen ''sowieso niet''.

Begrip

''De zorgen rond de boodschappenkar begrijp ik goed", aldus de bewindsman in een reactie.

''Het is nadrukkelijk een optie om de levensmiddelen uit te zonderen van een btw-verhoging. Wat mij betreft komen alle opties op tafel in het debat met de Tweede Kamer. We moeten ook niet hebben dat er in de grensstreek geen supermarkt overblijft als wij de btw op de boodschappenkar verhogen en dat in Duitsland en België niet gebeurt.''

Weekers stelt dat een hogere btw gecompenseerd met een lagere inkomstenbelasting geen koopkrachtgevolgen heeft voor de mensen. ''Niemand wordt zwaarder getroffen dan een ander. Dat zou niet evenwichtig zijn en dan zou ik het niet doen.''
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ma 18 apr 2011, 05:31

Best-before labels face axe to cut £6bn food throwaway

By Tom Kelly

Last updated at 5:57 PM on 17th April 2011
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... waway.html


Best before dates may be scrapped in an attempt to cut the five million tonnes of edible food dumped by Britons each year.

Ministers also plan to withdraw the ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ stickers to reduce the waste, which costs families nearly £700 a year.

They will keep only ‘use by’ dates, which provide the definitive guide to when food is no longer safe to eat and should be thrown away.

New labels highlighting the health risks of leaving food on the shelf or in the fridge for long periods may also be introduced.

Fish, prawn and eggs will have to carry special warnings because of the risk of food poisoning.

But food such as bread and some vegetables, where the risk is minimal, would carry much simpler labels.

A coalition source said: “Staples like mushroom and tomatoes are routinely marked ‘best before’ when all that happens when they reach these dates is that the food loses a bit of colour or goes a bit soft.

‘We cannot carry on simply throwing away tonnes of food like this.”

The change is expected to be announced within the next month by Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, in the next few months.

Research by supermarket chain Morrisons found that 55 per cent of people will throw away an item that is past its ‘best-before’ date, despite the fact it is safe to eat.

The waste reduction body Wrap says 1.3million unopened yoghurt pots are dumped every day, along with 440,000 ready meals, 5,500 whole chickens, 4.4million apples, 5.1million potatoes and 1.6million bananas.

Households in Britain throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food and drink a year most of it ending up in landfill, according to Wrap.

It estimates that more than 5million tonnes of this is edible.

Households throw out up to a quarter of their weekly food and drink purchases, costing the average family with children £680 a year.

Critics have also placed part of the blame on supermarkets offering “buy-one-get-one-free” deals on products with a short shelf life, including fruit and vegetables, which mean shoppers throw away large amounts.

A Defra spokesman said: ‘By law, pre-packed food must show a “Best before” date, even though many foods are still safe to eat after that date.

‘This is very different from the “Use by” date that shows when food is no longer safe and should be thrown away.’

‘Being clear on the difference between the two could help us all to reduce food waste.’

Scientists at Strathclyde University have developed an intelligent food wrapping that changes colour if the contents are going bad which could be on the shelves within two years.

The smart plastic packaging detects when meat, fish or salad leaves have passed their use-by date or have been left out of the fridge for too long.

Best before dates may be scrapped in an attempt to cut the five million tonnes of edible food dumped by Britons each year.

Ministers also plan to withdraw the ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ stickers to reduce the waste, which costs families nearly £700 a year.

They will keep only ‘use by’ dates, which provide the definitive guide to when food is no longer safe to eat and should be thrown away.

New labels highlighting the health risks of leaving food on the shelf or in the fridge for long periods may also be introduced.

Fish, prawn and eggs will have to carry special warnings because of the risk of food poisoning.

But food such as bread and some vegetables, where the risk is minimal, would carry much simpler labels.

A coalition source said: “Staples like mushroom and tomatoes are routinely marked ‘best before’ when all that happens when they reach these dates is that the food loses a bit of colour or goes a bit soft.

‘We cannot carry on simply throwing away tonnes of food like this.”

The change is expected to be announced within the next month by Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, in the next few months.

Research by supermarket chain Morrisons found that 55 per cent of people will throw away an item that is past its ‘best-before’ date, despite the fact it is safe to eat.

The waste reduction body Wrap says 1.3million unopened yoghurt pots are dumped every day, along with 440,000 ready meals, 5,500 whole chickens, 4.4million apples, 5.1million potatoes and 1.6million bananas.

Households in Britain throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food and drink a year most of it ending up in landfill, according to Wrap.

It estimates that more than 5million tonnes of this is edible.

Households throw out up to a quarter of their weekly food and drink purchases, costing the average family with children £680 a year.

Critics have also placed part of the blame on supermarkets offering “buy-one-get-one-free” deals on products with a short shelf life, including fruit and vegetables, which mean shoppers throw away large amounts.

A Defra spokesman said: ‘By law, pre-packed food must show a “Best before” date, even though many foods are still safe to eat after that date.

‘This is very different from the “Use by” date that shows when food is no longer safe and should be thrown away.’

‘Being clear on the difference between the two could help us all to reduce food waste.’

Scientists at Strathclyde University have developed an intelligent food wrapping that changes colour if the contents are going bad which could be on the shelves within two years.

The smart plastic packaging detects when meat, fish or salad leaves have passed their use-by date or have been left out of the fridge for too long.
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do 28 apr 2011, 23:29

Ex-President Jimmy Carter calls for North Korea aid
28 April 2011 Last updated at 12:39 GMT
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13221867

Former US President Jimmy Carter has accused the US and South Korea of human rights violations against North Koreans by withholding food aid.

Mr Carter made the comments after a three-day private visit to Pyongyang.

He also said North Korea was willing to hold unconditional talks with South Korea - a message conveyed in a note from leader Kim Jong-il.

South Korea wants the North to apologise for two deadly attacks last year before talks can restart.

It blames North Korea for sinking its warship in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives - something Pyongyang denies. It also wants an apology for the shelling of a border island in November that killed four people.

The US has stressed that Mr Carter's visit was "strictly private", while the South Korean foreign minister said he did not have "high expectations" that the former leader could deliver a break-through.

Food fears

Mr Carter travelled to North Korea with three former national leaders from The Elders group and held talks with Kim Jong-il's deputy, Kim Jong-nam.

Speaking in Seoul after his return, he said North Korea needed food aid.

"One of the most important human rights is to have food to eat, and for South Korea and the US and others to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people is really a human rights violation," he said.

South Korea and the US have both suspended food shipments to the North in the past few years as a result of worsening political relations and concerns over monitoring the aid.

But, says the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul, North Korea has been warning of especially severe food shortages this year as a result of the harsh winter.

North Korea has been dependent on food aid since famine in the mid-1990s.

On Wednesday Samaritan's Purse, a US-based charity that surveyed food needs in North Korea in February, warned that food stocks in some parts of the country would run out by June.

On dialogue, Mr Carter said that although he did not meet Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader "sent word that he and the people of North Korea are willing to negotiate with South Korea or the United States... on any subject at any time without preconditions".

"He specifically told us that he was prepared for a summit with [South Korean] President Lee Myung-bak at any time," he said.

But he said that although the communist nation expressed "deep regret" over the warship sinking and the shelling, it did not apologise for either event.

Wider disarmament talks involving the US, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas broke down over two years ago on the issue of how North Korea's dialogue partners could verify that the information it had presented on its nuclear work was accurate and complete.

China is pushing for the talks to restart but both the US and South Korea say inter-Korean tensions must be eased first.

Mr Carter returned without a US national detained in the communist state, businessman Jun Young-su who is reportedly accused of conducting missionary work.

The former president last year secured the release of another US citizen jailed in the country, but said before he left that he did not expect to raise the case of Mr Jun on this occasion.
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zo 01 mei 2011, 18:55

Qoffee Crops Could Be Devastated by Frost in Brazil (JO, CAFE)

By Gary Cassady

April 29, 2011
http://www.benzinga.com/commodities/11/ ... il-jo-cafe


Bloomberg is reporting that there could be significant disruptions to coffee supplies if frost continues to damage coffee plants in Brazil- one of the largest countries for coffee production in the world. Brazil is the largest coffee producing country in the world and the second largest coffee consuming country

A major topic of interest for the coffee community is rising coffee prices, occurring largely as a result of demand outpacing supply. "It estimated in February that North American commodity costs would increase $700 million to $800 million this year, or about 1.5 percent of 2010 revenue," according to Bloomberg's article.

Two ETFs with significant coffee exposure include the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Coffee Subindex Total Return ETN (NYSE: JO) and iPath Pure Beta Coffee ETN (NYSE: CAFE).

The year-to-date performance of JO has been 22.4%. The year-to-date performance of CAFE, which is a new ETN, has been 0.5%. The article can be found here.

According to the USDA, total coffee production will exceed demand by 8.2 million bags in 2010-2011, compared with a deficit of 3 million bags in the prior season.
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zo 01 mei 2011, 18:56

Qoffee faces a 40% price jump

Some prized growing regions of Brazil could be hit with cold weather from the South Pole.

By Kim Peterson
on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 5:59 AM
http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post.as ... 1c815946a9


The prices of Folgers and Maxwell House coffees have already been creeping up, but now the companies face a possible 40% spike in bean costs as Brazil deals with hail and possible frost, Bloomberg reports.

The industry has seen Brazilian frost wreak havoc on prices before. In 1994, a frost damaged coffee crops and prices rose 39%. If the same thing happens this year, coffee could hit a record $4.20 a pound, according to Bloomberg. And if coffee is that high at the wholesale level, just imagine what it will cost on store shelves.

As if that weren't bad enough, there's already a shortage this year of Arabica beans, causing prices to increase 24%. "If Brazil has a frost, not only will we see uncharted prices but the situation might become unbearable," industry analyst Rodrigo Costa told Bloomberg.

Kraft Foods (KFT) hiked the price of Maxwell House and Yuban by 22% last month. JM Smucker (SJM) upped prices for Folgers by 10% in February.

For now, the industry is watching the weather in Brazil intently, particularly the Center South region that produces the Arabica beans favored by Starbucks (SBUX) and other brewers. Cold weather from the South Pole is due in that region next month, Bloomberg reports, and the temperature is expected to fall to 41 degrees. Coffee trees are in danger below 34 degrees.

Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz is confident his company will have no coffee supply problem. Coffee suppliers say everything is fine, he told CNBC. The problem is that hedge funds and other speculators are pushing prices sky high.

"So we're living at a time right now where financial speculation index funds, hedge funds have created a rush of very, very high prices," Schultz said. "And not only coffee, corn, sugar, cotton and obviously oil, and unfortunately it has to hit the consumer."

Schultz added that he doesn't see much elasticity on coffee pricing. With the economic downturn, he said, the industry must be very conscious about prices.

Starbucks reported a 20% increase in quarterly profit Wednesday to $261.6 million, or 34 cents a share, meeting analyst expectations. Revenue rose 10% to $2.8 billion, which exceeded analyst expectations.
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do 05 mei 2011, 19:54

Ahtisaari: “Shocking” humanitarian emergency in North Korea

http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Ahtisa ... 5265816207

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari has said after a visit to North Korea last week that the humanitarian emergency in that country is “shocking”.
“Suffering most from the situation are children, old people, and expectant mothers. Help needs to be delivered there quickly”, Ahtisaari said in a telephone interview with Helsingin Sanomat from the South Korean capital Seoul, where he flew after a two-day visit in Pyongyang.

Ahtisaari was in North Korea with a delegation of former national leaders, including former US President Jimmy Carter, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Bruntland, and former Irish President Mary Robinson.

The World Food Programme has also called the situation there serious. In March the UN estimated that a quarter of the population in North Korea face hunger in the upcoming month.
“The children in an orphanage that I saw had growth and development disorders. They have suffered from shortages”, Ahtisaari said.

The daily rice ration in North Korea has been reduced to 360 grams – half of what it was before.
Ahtisaari says that the ration will be cut to just 200 grams if help is not forthcoming. According to unconfirmed reports, rations for the country’s armed forces have also been cut.
“I was shocked at how great the need for help is. I had not understood before the trip that the situation was this serious”, Ahtisaari said. He said that he will try to appeal to EU member states and other countries to secure aid for North Korea.

The food crisis in North Korea is partly attributable to the severe winter, flooding, and foot-and-mouth disease. Agricultural methods are primitive because of the country’s isolation.
Many countries, such as South Korea and the United States, have not delivered aid to North Korea because of its aggressive policies, including its shelling of a South Korean island and suspicions that it sank a South Korean ship.
The blockade against North Korea has also been tightened, because of the lack of progress in negotiations on the country’s nuclear programme, and many countries have stopped providing food aid because they fear that the food would be diverted to the country’s military.

Suspicions have also been voiced that dictator Kim Jong-il might be stockpiling food for next year, which marks the centenary of the birth of his father and predecessor Kimg Il-sung. The year is already being called the “year of prosperity”.
According to Ahtisaari, the World Food Programme has managed to negotiate arrangements with North Korea that guarantee that aid supplies will reach those who need it.
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di 17 mei 2011, 18:25

Ongelofelijk, maar helaas waar. Elk jaar wordt er maar liefst 1,3 miljard ton voedsel verspild. Iets meer dan de helft gaat verloren in de geïndustrialiseerde wereld en de rest wordt in ontwikkelingslanden weggegooid. Dat betekent dat bijna een derde van het voedsel dat bestemd is voor menselijke consumptie nooit wordt opgegeten.
http://www.stichtingmilieunet.nl/anders ... gooid.html


Dat zijn de bizarre cijfers uit een onderzoek in opdracht van de Wereldvoedselorganisatie (FAO). In de geïndustrialiseerde landen treedt 40 procent van de verliezen op in de schakels tussen retail en consument. Het grootste deel gaat verloren tijdens het productieproces, bijvoorbeeld door inefficiënte oogsttechnieken en gebrekkige transport-, opslag- en verwerkingsmogelijkheden.

Consumenten in de industrielanden gooien jaarlijks 95 tot 115 kilo voedsel in de vuilniszak- of container. In de ontwikkelingslanden is dat een stuk minder met 6 tot 11 kilo. Bron: FAO

Stop Voedselverspilling: Wie Wint De No Waste Award 2011? - Stop Voedselverspilling: Taste the Waste en De AfvalShow op TV by BOS - Green Cook: Het Tegengaan van Voedselverspilling en Duurzaam Voedselbeheer - Stop Voedselverspilling: Innovatieve Ideeën Gezocht - Stop Voedselverspilling NU: Eten is om op te Eten - Voedselverspilling: Dumster Diving of Skippen – In de Afvalcontainer met Lieve Blancquaert

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wo 18 mei 2011, 04:38

Coffee prices set to soar on shortage fears

Courtney Trenwith, Benjamin Preiss


May 17, 2011 - 10:00AM
http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/res ... z1Ma4XF97q


A cup of coffee is about to get even more expensive.


The price of raw green beans has more than doubled in less than 12 months and coffee shops say they can no longer absorb the soaring costs.

Danny Erlich, co-owner of Prahran coffee roaster and retailer Ciscos Coffee, said he expected Melbourne cafes to raise the price of a cup of coffee by up to 50 cents.
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He said a shortage of beans and an increase in the number of coffee speculators - traders who make bets on coffee prices - were forcing cafes to increase prices.

‘‘They’ve got no choice,’’ he said.

Mr Erlich said he had increased his prices by up to 10 per cent in the past 12 months.

Others said the price could rise by 30 to 40 cents a cup.

"It's absolutely going to affect [cafe] prices; I don't think anybody can avoid it," said Warren Reynolds, executive manager of Perth's growing coffee franchise Muzzbuzz.

The average price for a cup of coffee is $3.30 nationwide, according to the Gilkatho Cappuccino Price Index.

Large coffee chains around the country are already charging more for a cup of the beloved heart-starter.

Tim Crowley, manager of Balaclava cafe Monk Bodhi Dharma, said customers could be paying $4 for cup by the end of the year. The cafe now charges $3.80.

‘‘Everyone associates coffee with $3. I think people need to get out of that mindset,’’ he said.

Mr Crowley said many city cafes charged $3 for coffee but that price would prove unsustainable.

‘‘I reckon they will be going up to $3.50 in the city. I don’t think they’ll be going any higher though.’’

The biggest concern may not be the cost of coffee but whether there is any available.

Extraordinarily, there is a serious fear the world may temporarily run out of its second-most-traded commodity.

"That's a question I've asked myself many times in the past six months," Mr Reynolds said.

"That's the multi, multi, multi-trillion dollar question. Nobody can answer that."

The problem is not increased demand but poor supply.

Environmental impacts have hit crop yields - particularly in Brazil, the largest supplier - and entire crops have failed in other key areas, significantly limiting the availability of beans.

"They don't expect crop yields or the market to change until after 2013," Mr Reynolds said.

"If that's the case, we're facing a couple of pretty difficult years.

"We're seeing some of the big players trying to corner stock in from different places [to avoid running out]."

Some businesses, including BioBean in Perth Hills, have bought a year-and-a-half's supply of green beans to guarantee stock, especially of organic and free trade status, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

"It's like hen's teeth," owner owner Mary Ipkendanz said. The price of some blends at Biobean has been jacked up by 10 per cent in the past few weeks.

The drastic decision to pile up stock would cost thousands in interest payments on a loan needed to purchase the coffee, as well as additional electricity costs to store it correctly.

"[The rising price of coffee] is quite frightening," she said. "[But] the most frightening thing for me is not the increasing cost but having the coffee to roast."

However, she said she did not believe cafes could justify significant price rises based only on the increasing price of coffee, which costs an average 35 cents per cup.

"The price increase for most of the restaurants has probably recently added 3 cents a cup," she said.

Mr Reynolds said cafes were also facing increased rent and electricity costs, while the supply of milk was at risk due to the major supermarkets artificially driving down prices.

He said the combined increases had the potential to send smaller coffee shops bust.

WAToday
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