The Consumer Price Index for all foodincreased 2.3 percent in 2000 and should rise about the same amountin 2001, say University of Georgia experts. After near-recordgrowth last year, beef and pork price increases are expected toslow. Other food items should see only small increases.”The slowing economy during the last quarter of 2000 is aforecast of a slower rate of economic growth during 2001,”said Bill Thomas, an agricultural economist with the UGA Collegeof Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Because farm commodities account for only 20 cents of eachretail food dollar, it’s more important to look at what’s happeningin the rest of the economy than to focus on farm prices,”Thomas said.What’s Driving Cost? Photo:USDA Americans can expect food prices to rise about 2 percent to 3 percent during 2001. Higher energy prices last year won’t necessarilytranslate into higher food prices, because transportation andenergy costs are small components of the total food marketingbill.”The total marketing bill equals 80 cents for every dollarconsumers spend on food,” Thomas said. “Transportationcosts are 4 percent and energy costs 3.5 percent of the marketingbill. If energy costs continue to be this high through 2001, another0.2 percent could be added to the rate of inflation in food.”Food price changes are a key to determining the portion of consumers’income that is spent on food. In 1999, consumers spent 10.4 percentof their household disposable income on food, with 6.2 percentfor food at home and 4.2 percent for food away from home. “During 2001, the long-run downward trend should continue,resulting in consumer expenditures for food amounting to only10.3 percent of their income,” Thomas said.Item-by-item CostThomas and other UGA economists make theseforecasts for individual food sectors:Meat Products: A booming economy continues to fuel demand for meatproducts, and overall meat prices were up 5.6 percent in 2000.Large meat supplies should limit gains to 3 percent to 4 percentin 2001.Fish and seafood: Prices should climb 2 percent to 3 percent in2001. A strong domestic economy is boosting sales in the restaurantand food-service sectors, which claim a growing share of totalseafood sales.Eggs: Prices will rise as much as 1 percent in 2001. Higherproduction levels and slower growth in exports have led to lowerretail prices the past four years.Dairy products: The CPI is expected to increase 1 percentto 2 percent in 2001. Strong consumer demand for gourmet ice cream,cheese and butterfat products, is expected to continue into 2001.Fresh fruits: It’s too early to know the full impact ofthe freezes in Florida on citrus prices. However, continued demandfor fresh fruits and normal production levels for major fruitsin the United States should boost the fresh-fruit CPI 2 percentto 3 percent in 2001.Fresh vegetables: After low farm prices in 1999, farmersreduced acreage in 2000, and prices climbed. Farmers took note, and shipments are expected to decline during 2001. Assuming normal weather and continued strong demand, the fresh-vegetable CPI should increase 2 percent to 3 percent in 2001.Processed fruits and vegetables: Adequate supplies of mostfruits and vegetables for processing is expected to limit theCPI increase to 2 percent to 3 percent in 2001.Sugar and sweets: Relatively low inflation, along withincreased production and lower retail for selected sugar-relatedfood items, is expected to limit the index increase to 1.5 percentto 2.5 percent in 2001.Cereal and bakery: With grain prices lower this year andinflation-related processing costs modest, the CPI is forecastto rise 2 percent to 3 percent. Most of the costs to produce cerealand bread products — more than 90 percent in most cases — arefor processing and marketing. Grain and other farm ingredientsaccount for a fraction of the total cost.Nonalcoholic beverages: The CPI is forecast to rise 2 percentto 3 percent. Prices of coffee and carbonated drinks, which accountfor 28 and 38 percent of the index, rose 3 percent (coffee) and4 percent (soft drinks) in 2000. Recent near-record arabica beanproduction in Brazil should lead to larger U.S. stocks and continuedmoderate consumer prices.
More than four million coronavirus cases have been recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, half of them in Brazil, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.The region passed the bleak milestone as Brazil reported a daily record of 67,860 new coronavirus cases Wednesday.Latin America is one of the hardest-hit regions in the world, with 4,040,925 recorded cases and 172,886 people killed by COVID-19. Mexico’s death toll has surged to become the fourth-highest in the world, at 40,400.The country surpassed Italy on Sunday, and now has more victims than anywhere but the United States, Brazil and Britain.Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 15 million people and killed nearly 625,000 since it emerged in China late last year.Brazil in particular has struggled to set a strategy for responding to the pandemic.President Jair Bolsonaro faces criticism for downplaying the virus and attacking social distancing measures adopted by state and local authorities.The far-right leader, who has regularly hit the streets mask-less for rallies by his supporters, has been in quarantine at the presidential palace since July 7 after contracting the virus himself.His office announced Wednesday he had again tested positive, saying he would continue his quarantine and suspend his upcoming travel plans.Bolsonaro, 65, argues the economic fallout from stay-at-home measures could be worse than the virus itself, and is instead pushing the unproven malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as remedies, following in the footsteps of US President Donald Trump.Margareth Dalcomo, an expert at Brazil’s leading public-health institute, Fiocruz, said Bolsonaro’s hydroxychloroquine-pushing was “deplorable.””This politicization of the drug by the US and Brazilian presidents for murky reasons has no justification, and it deceives people,” she told AFP.”It has been proven this drug has no effect against COVID-19.”Bolsonaro is on his third health minister since the pandemic reached Brazil five months ago, after falling out with two doctors who previously held the post over their recommendations on containing the virus.The current minister, an interim, is Eduardo Pazuello, an army general with no prior medical experience.The World Health Organization voiced optimism last week that the outbreak in Brazil had finally reached a plateau, urging the country to use the opportunity to “take control.”But though the level of daily infections and deaths has stabilized, it remains high.The country has recorded an average of more than 37,000 infections and 1,050 deaths a day over the past week. Topics : That is the highest caseload of any region except North America, and the highest death toll of any region except Europe.Brazil alone has registered 2.2 million cases and 82,771 deaths, the second-biggest outbreak in the world after the United States.Although many Latin American countries have begun relaxing stay-at-home measures, the virus is still spreading quickly across much of the region.Peru, Mexico and Chile are also on the list of the top 10 countries by total cases, with well over 300,000 each.