Soft commodities

Cash in on cannabis as a new industry emerges

The prohibitionist era is over: countries are rapidly legalising marijuana for medical and recreational use. Ben Judge reviews the latest developments and explains how to profit from pot.

Chart of the week: hogs high on swine fever

The number of pigs in China, around 450 million, is set to shrink by a third by the end of 2019 as swine flu rages – meanwhile, US pork sales to China have hit a record high.

Agri-tech: harvesting profits from the future of the food industry

The agricultural sector has long survived by throwing more pesticides, machines and land at every problem. That won’t work any more. Merryn Somerset Webb explores the agri-tech revolution.

Britain is running out of water

Drier summers and a rapidly growing population mean parts of Britain will run out of water in 25 years. What can we do about it, and how much would it cost?

Save on tax and save the planet: put some money in forestry

You can’t expect to find a magic money tree, but if you are a wealthier investor, then adding a forest to your portfolio could boost your returns – and it’s environmentally friendly too. David Prosser explores the options.

Chart of the week: coffee comes off the boil

Coffee prices have tumbled to a 12-year low, thanks to a bumper crop in Brazil – the world’s largest producer – and a stronger US dollar.

Chart of the week: vanilla is more valuable than silver

Vanilla is one of the world’s most popular flavours, but a dear one. As this chart shows, a supply squeeze over the past few years has propelled prices to record highs, even overtaking silver.

Chart of the week: cheese – the first casualty of the trade war

US cheese prices have crumbled thanks to a glut – the block cheddar cheese benchmark price settled at around $1.54 a pound

The city that ran out of water

Cape Town, South Africa’s second-biggest city, might soon have to turn off the taps. What went wrong? And is this a sign of things to come for other cities?

Are we running out of food?

As the world’s population soars, new technologies and changing consumption habits will be key to keeping everyone fed. Alex Rankine reports.

Chart of the week: vanilla could soon be off the menu

Vanilla prices have rocketed to a record peak of more than $600 a kilo, after a cyclone in March dented supplies from Madagascar, which accounts for half of world output.

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.

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