I am blogging live this morning during an event in New York City organized by my company, Fleishman-Hillard. A panel of speakers will examine the future of food and nutrition, and the current trends that will impact that future vision. I am also maintaining a twitter feed during the event.
One topic raised by the first speaker is the rise in food prices. Factors such as a rise in global demand, due to increases in population and improvements in the standard of living in many countries, investments in fuel crops, and the impact of oil and gas prices on transportation costs are among the factors that are impacting price.
The clean energy movement has had a frustrating few decades. Investment in and adoption of alternative energy has been slow in the United States. Finally oil and gas prices -- coupled with investment incentives -- led to real growth in alternative fuel production. In the United States some of that investment has gone into corn and soy-based ethanol. The connection between investment in fuel crops and rising food prices has not been quantified, but the thought that food riots in poor countries could be tied to investment in alternative energy in the United States has to be agonizing for clean energy advocates.
This is an issue I have considered in prior posts, but this event is bringing it into much sharper focus. I am also interested in a new series of articles running in the New York Times entitled The Food Chain, Betting on Agriculture. An article from the series this morning looks at the large bets private investors and investment funds are putting into the food chain, going well beyond a more typical portfolio of commodities into food land, storage, and transportation.