In Times Like These, America's Diet Of Processed Foods Is An Economic Miracle

All you’re thinking about today is food inflation, so we thought this point from Citi was good:

The U.S. is a net exporter of food.  But farm income benefits just a very small share of the population directly, and this income doesn’t play a very large factor in assessing relative impact on U.S. consumers (all of whom eat).  But food is a relatively low share of the U.S. consumer price basket, reflecting high developed world income levels, Importantly, food prices are also unusually stable in the U.S. For better or worse, this reflects the very high processing content of food.  With it, production and marketing margins absorb most of the variation in raw food commodity prices that could erode consumer incomes. (We tally just 3.5% of the U.S. as direct, unprocessed food commodities). As such, there have been virtually no reports of “food price shocks” in the U.S., but several oil shocks in modern times.

This chart comparing foodstuffs (commodities) with the actual CPI end food number is pretty remarkable for the large gap that has emerged. Someone is eating the costs, but it’s not the end consumer, who, when they buy food, are paying for A LOT more than just input costs.

food inflation

Photo: citi

So next time you moan about America’s process-food diet, take a moment and realise how much this insulates us.

Of course, what this means for our healthcare bill is another story…

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