Soft commodities

Carnage in commodities

Commodity prices have hit their lowest level since the late 1990s. And while there is scope for a rally in 2016, an upturn is unlikely to mark the start of the next long-term up-cycle.

Selling the silver

Beware of investment trusts that are spending beyond their means

Chart of the week: Trump will spoil the Super Bowl party

America’s Super Bowl, the annual final of the National Football League, is the second-biggest day for food consumption after Thanksgiving.

Chart of the week: “shrinkflation” hits the chocolate market

Toblerone, Quality Street and Creme Eggs have all been hit by “shrinkflation”, with customers getting less for more after the price of cocoa butter soared – up 40% this year alone.

Chart of the week: bumper harvest hits truffle prices

Heavy rains in the Tanaro river basin in Piedmont, northwest Italy, have led to a bumper harvest of Alba white truffles this year.

Chart of the week: the rise of the garlic-hoarders

The wholesale price of garlic in China, which accounts for more than 80% of the world’s exports, has risen since 2015 as heavy rains damaged crops. Garlic hoarders and speculators have propelled prices to multi-year highs.

US gets relaxed on pot – can investors join the party?

A small San Diego-based real estate firm that plans to invest in medical-marijuana growth facilities has filed to list on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chart of the week: lobster prices are boiling over

Hipsters’ passion for lobster rolls has helped propel lobster prices to an 11-year high. Global lobster imports were 7% up year-on-year in the first quarter, with imports to the EU up 20%.

Chart of the week: America’s butter mountain

Spot butter prices in America hit a record peak above $3 a pound in 2015, but now they are falling. Butter stockpiles are up 52% from a year ago and close to a 23-year high.

Chart of the week: wheat mountain weighs on prices

In 2008, wheat prices briefly spiked above $13 a bushel, sparking food riots in emerging markets. Since then, they have slumped by more than 70%.

Chart of the week: the cashew crunch

Nut lovers beware. We are facing a cashew supply crunch. Unusually hot and dry weather, a result of the El Niño phenomenon, has reduced crops in Vietnam and west Africa.

Chart of the week: China snacks on peanuts

A surge in demand for peanuts in China is outstripping supply from the top exporter Argentina, sending the price of the legumes soaring.

Chart of the week: orange juice goes out of fashion

Production is set to fall by a quarter and inventories are at a six-year low. That sounds like a recipe for higher prices for orange juice. But demand is declining.

Land this fish stock

Salmon prices are leaping – which is great news for smart fish farms, says Alex Williams.

Chart of the week: salmon prices are leaping

The salmon market is facing a global supply shock thanks to a toxic sea algae related to the unusually high water temperatures caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

The assets to buy now – March 2016

Asset allocation is at least as important as individual share selection. So where should you be putting your money? Here’s our monthly take on the major asset classes

Carnage in commodities

Commodity prices have hit their lowest level since the late 1990s. And while there is scope for a rally in 2016, an upturn is unlikely to mark the start of the next long-term up-cycle.

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