Saturday, April 25, 2020

Who Is Likely To Go Without Food In The Engineered "Food Crisis"?

nakedcapitalism |  In a new paper, Who is likely to go without food in the looming supply crisis? Markit identifies additional choke points:
Principal supply issues
Not enough labour to harvest the crops. This is partly due to transport problems (see below) and partly because of lockdowns…India has discovered that it is easier to lock people down and get them to return to their home towns and villages than it is to get them out again….
Also, if social distancing is practised, yields go down unless you add many more staff. That, of course, adds to costs.
Primary and further processing has exactly the same problem. At the simplest level, if you space staff on a conveyor belt two metres apart instead of one, you effectively halve your production rate. Either you work extra shifts or you add extra lines, again raising prices….
US farmers are sending all their herds to early slaughter because the catering market is dead and so, at the most basic level, nobody in the US is going out for steak & eggs or a nice bacon and egg breakfast in a diner. It takes time to rear cattle to ideal slaughter size and age (less time for pigs and poultry) and farmers are unlikely to start rearing until they are certain that there will be a market for the meat when the time comes, so there will be a gap of several months. Frozen meat will make up for some of the shortfall, but beef prices are likely to soar.
The crude oil price is now negative. In addition, the ethanol market is dead….As nobody’s making ethanol, that means a shortage of animal feed because after fermentation, the mash is dried, pelletised and fed to animals.
The entire (short) piece is worth reading, because it reaches grim conclusions for much of the world,, including food riots in cities with large slum populations.

A less obvious but still important factor in the comparatively pampered US is that more eating at home means different eating patterns. Someone who grabs ethnic fast food for lunch isn’t likely to attempt that in his kitchen. And a lot of people aren’t good at cooking, so Lord only know what they’ll wind up subsisting on.2 That’s why ground meat is so popular: it is versatile and fault tolerant.