Food prices are going up, up and away. But these exchange traded funds (ETFs) have moved more than most on rising prices.
Factors influencing the rising cost of food include the cost of raw materials to harvest them, labor, transportation, and marketing among other things. Because of a change in trends, price changes at the farm level in the United States have less impact on a percentage basis than ever before.
- Corn: Corn prices shot up 69% last year as production in the U.S. dropped 4.9% on bad weather. This will leave U.S. inventories at their lowest level in 15 years, on top of an already-low global inventory. The impact of any price increase in corn is wide-ranging and affects things like cereals, fruit drinks, ice cream, soups, syrups, beer, cakes, tortillas, breads and lunch meats. Teucrium Corn (NYSEArca: CORN), which has only been around since last June, has gone up 72.6% since inception.
- Coffee: Coffee was up 65% last year, reaching its highest level in 13 years. Two-third’s of the world’s supply comes from just three countries: Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia. Unfavorable weather conditions have impacted production, which has resulted in the depletion of U.S. coffee reserves to the lowest point in a decade. iPath Dow Jones AIG Coffee TR Sub-Index ETN (NYSEArca: JO) has risen 82.9% in the last year.
- Wheat: Wheat jumped 47% during a year when the winter wheat acreage was the smallest since 1913. Surging worldwide demand and bad weather have both contributed to reductions in yield estimates. Wheat is contained in many food products, including: bran, crackers, pasta, flour, donuts, beer, mayonnaise, puddings, whiskey, hot dogs and cereals.iPath DJ-UBS Grains TR Sub-Idx ETN (NYSEArca: JJG) has risen 56.4% in the last year.
- Soybeans: After a record harvest in 2009, U.S. soybean production fell in 2010 and helped fuel a 44% increase in prices. The tightness in supply has resulted in a 25 million bushel drop in estimated inventories before this year’s harvest. Food products containing soybeans include: tofu, sausage, ice cream, vegetable oil, candy, baby food, peanut butter, salad dressing, margarine, sauces and vegetable shortening. PowerShares DB Agriculture (NYSEArca: DBA), which holds a broad basket of futures that can include sugar, wheat, soybeans, cocoa and more, has gained 37.3% in the last year.
Though these aren’t the only commodity ETFs that have performed well in recent months, we hope this illustrates how you can harness the power of ETFs to play strong asset classes. Pick your spots, have a strategy and you’ll be in a position to potentially succeed.
Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.