Soft commodities

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.

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.

Showing page 1 of 15