The Lunacy of America’s Ethanol Policy

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Steve Milloy over at JunkScience.com reminds
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Inflation Alert: Chipotle Restaurant

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Chipotle Mexcican Grill recently made headlines by going “GMO Free” on certain ingredients. I believe this announcement was more of a marketing ploy against the news in their recent financial statements. I’m not a big investor of restaurants in this day and age of the Federal Reserve printing money at a high rate and American beef in demand world wide. (Some investment advice, put your money not in the restaurant but with the beef farmer) Chipotle is hiking prices again on its customers. Within a one year time period prices on certain items will have increased 11-13%.

This write up came from TheStreet.com a week before their GMO announcement –

Chipotle stands to receive another jolt to the top line from another round of price increases. The company, which has historically been reluctant to lift prices, confirmed it will hike prices on steak and barbacoa in the third quarter by 4% to 6% in order to compensate for persistent beef inflation.

In the second quarter last year, Chipotle implemented an across-the-board menu price increase of about 7%, as it dealt with beef, dairy and avocado inflation. Same-restaurant sales growth accelerated soon after the menu price increases went into effect — after rising by 13.1% in the first quarter of last year, same-restaurant sales increased averaged 17.7% in the remaining three quarters.

U.S. Beef Herds Will Expand in 2015

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One area of economic data I follow is where corn is being sold to. Recent data has pointed to farmers raising cattle which means an expanding beef market. I did some research and found this forecast at FarmandDairy.com:

U.S. Department of Agriculture semiannual report that cattle numbers have increased by slightly more than 1 percent following seven years of decline.
The most significant expansion has been in beef cows, which were up 2 percent from the previous year, the USDA said.
There were 610,000 new beef cows added nationally. Hurt said the expansion is likely to continue through most of this decade.


One reason for the expansion is prices farmers are getting for beef:

“These were led by record-high cattle prices in 2014 with finished cattle averaging near $155 per live hundredweight and Oklahoma 500-550 pound steer calves averaging $250,” Hurt said.

Percent of Fuel Cost in Your Grocery Store Bill

With fuel prices dropping over the last several months, many shoppers are asking why food prices have not shown corresponding drops in prices. The asnwer may surprise you in how much fuel costs affect grocery store bills.

Annemarie Kuhns with the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service is reporting that only 4.7 cents of every dollar spent at the supermarket goes toward food transportation costs

So less than 5% of your bill is attributed to fuel costs.

Inflation Alert: Chicken Wings

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According to the Daily Northeast Broiler/Fryer Report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Marketing Service the price for retailers purchasing chicken wings to sell at their business has jumped by 35% compared to last year. This was reported in PRNewswire:

The average price (wholesale, not retail) of whole wings is currently $1.71/lb, up from $1.35/lb at the same time last year.

This is not the highest ever seen:

This is down significantly from when wing prices hit a record high of $2.11/lb in January, 2013.

Inflation Alert: Girl Scout Cookies

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Inflation is more often associated with the price of a product going up. But inflation is also measured by a product being produced in a smaller size but staying the same on price. Girl Scout cookies fall into both of those categories.

First, lets look at the price of buying Girl Scout cookies. The 2015 price per box according to the Girl Scout website is now $5. In 2009 the price of a box was $3.50 and faced the other side of inflation, downsizing the product. The website popsugar.com noted the downsize:

According to the organization, the cost of flour rose by 30 percent, assorted cooking oils by 40 percent, and cocoa by at least 20 percent. The company felt this was the best method of dealing with increasing raw material prices. Alternatively, Girl Scouts could have used cheaper ingredients, or raised cookie prices from their current price of $3.50 per box.

Second downsizing of the product happened in 2011 as noted by OCWEEKLY blogs:

The Girl Scouts announced earlier this week that both the size and quantity of some remaining flavors will also dwindle slightly–as of now, only the Lemon Chalet Cremes are reducing in size, while the downsized quantities include Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbread Cookies, DoSiDos and Trefoils (up to four fewer cookies per box).

The reasons behind these changes? A rise in both transportation and baking costs. As a result, the agreed-upon course of action was to “lower the net weight of our cookie boxes slightly rather than ask our customers to pay a higher per-package price during these difficult times,” Girl Scouts spokesperson Michelle Tompkins told CNN.

Girl Scout cookies are shrinking in product serving and have spiked in price by almost 45%.

Rise of the Pork

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Hoosier Ag reporter Cayla McLeland is reporting pork will be on the rise in the near future for the consumer.

Purdue Extension Ag Economist, Dr. Chris Hurt, says expansion could reach seven percent higher by the end of this year.

“Breeding herd has grown by over 212,000 animals over the last year and that’s mostly in the center of the country. The western corn belt breeding herd increased by 105,000 head with Missouri rising by 55,000 animals. Iowa by 40,000 and Minnesota by 10,000 head. The second-largest growth region was down in the southern plains and they’re still recovering, of course, from the long-term drought. Both Texas and Oklahoma have added 20,000 animals to the breeding herd over the last year.”

Consumers faced higher prices a few years back due to farmers thinning herds from the drought and the the PED virus hitting hard last winter.

Read the rest of the article here.