Weekly commodity wrap-up

Inflation fears drive speculation

News from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week elevated concerns our buying power might be in trouble. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose more year-over-year than it has since 2008, a financial moment most remember as volatile. The reported 5% jump in May from a year ago was higher than many economists predicted. But, it can be viewed through a lens of what was going on in May  2020 and the markets’ reaction to it. Prices have gone up dramatically, and questions remain, if, when, and how much inflation will occur and how Washington will respond.

In the meantime, China’s producer price index (PPI) shows a different kind of trouble. Their PPI went up 9% from a year ago, and again, the fastest since 2008, the year felt around the world. Production costs at Chinese factories are soaring, and consumer prices aren’t keeping up.

Maine farmers get climate crisis blues

Weather and climate are hot topics lately, and now we’re learning a favorite summer fruit is in danger. Researchers at the University of Maine analyzed 40 years’ worth of data and found temperatures in the wild blueberry growing region have gone up 2.34 °F. While that seems like a small change, it could mean farmers need to adjust how they tend their crops, including increasing irrigation. It may also mean, naturally, the economy is impacted. Last year’s wild blueberry crop was the smallest since 2004. Researchers are looking at how climate change patterns can inform crop planning and management in an effort to adapt to warming temperatures.

Corn and beans fall

Four factors contributed to a sharp sell-off today in corn, beans, and soybean products. Showers were predicted across parts of Iowa, and rain makes grain, reducing fears of a drought-damaged crop. Secondly, the Chinese agricultural minister reduced the estimate of corn and soybean products to be imported and fed to livestock. Rumors that Mexico my ban some imports of genetically modified crops caused fears of demand for our commodities. And finally, talk of some changes to the ethanol mandate that could threaten demand for corn from the fuel alcohol industry. By midday Friday, corn for July delivery was trading at $6.77 per bushel, and December corn was trading at $6.01. July soybeans traded at $15 per bushel, down sharply from last week.