Cereal Offenders

As investors have found rich pickings in the food sector as it caught the wave of commodity market deregulation, people have starved. Sophie van Huellen looks at the ingredients of food financialisation.

Grains are an essential part of diets the world over. They are also an excellent investment opportunity but one that has fed poverty and political upheaval.

Financial investors’ demand for grains has far outstripped the actual supply over past decades. In 2014, a staggering 500 billion bushels (17.6 billion meters cubed) of grains were bought and sold at US derivative markets, while only 15 billion bushels were produced in the same year. So, what is going on in the world of grains?

Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi, Jayati Ghosh has called it “the unnatural coupling” . And Oxfam has talked about “cereal secrets” to describe an unholy marriage

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Sophie van Huellen

Sophie is a lecturer in Economics at SOAS University of London. Her research interests include food prices and issues around food security, commodity dependency and food sovereignty. In particular she …

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