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A new wave of panic buying has started amid growing fears of food shortages during the coming winter. Due to extreme weather, widespread crop failures, rising commodity prices, and an energy crisis that has been shutting down factories all over the world, global food supplies are getting tighter and tighter. Even in the best of times, we struggle to feed everyone on the planet. And considering the unprecedented chaos we have been facing over the past two years, those have definitely not been the best of times. To make things worse, since the beginning of the health crisis our supply chains have been hanging by a thread. As a consequence, food prices have been absolutely skyrocketing. According to the latest read of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation Price Index has shown that global food prices shot up by a staggering 40 percent from a year ago.
Those significantly higher food prices combined with a historic increase in the prices of many other commodities are contributing to a global inflationary spike that is putting millions of households at risk of facing food insecurity. In fact, the report says this was the largest increase since 2010-11, when geopolitical events and soaring food prices triggered the so-called Arab Spring that led to a societal collapse in Egypt and massive upheaval elsewhere. Moreover, if food prices continue to escalate that quickly, we will inevitably see social uprisings, food riots, and much more turbulence erupt all around the planet in the months ahead. Now, even the Chinese government is telling people to start preparing for the worst-case scenarios. The country is struggling with a 50 percent price spike across several products, including vegetables and fresh produce.
On Monday, Beijing warned citizens to start stockpiling food for the coming months, and the directive has put many people on edge. Bloomberg reported that the country’s Ministry of Commerce late Monday issued a notice advising local governments to encourage the population to stockpile “daily necessities,” including vegetables, oils and poultry, in order to “meet the needs of daily life and emergencies.”The Chinese government tends to issue warnings like this exclusively to local authorities. The fact that this time the warning was directed to the public as well is sparking major worries about what might be coming next for the nation. The unexpected warning sent shock waves across the economy. On Tuesday, citizens were describing on Chinese social media that a panic buying frenzy had started one more time in local supermarkets. Some started speculating that authorities were reminding people that they “might not be able to afford vegetables this winter”. “As soon as this news came out, all the people near me went crazy panic buying in the supermarket,” one of them wrote on Weibo.
When centralized governments like China issues directives such as this one, and people engage in a massive panic buying frenzy, the price of goods goes through the roof. That’s why, according to a state TV report, local authorities must hold on to food inventories and only release reserves “at an appropriate time” to prevent soaring food inflation and shortages. The measure sparked even more suspicion about the reason and timing the government issued the stockpiling directive. Local sources say that Chinese officials want people to get ready for a possible conflict with Taiwan. Even though it’s too early to tell if that’s the real motive behind the order, tensions continue to rise between the two countries. Meanwhile, here in the US, we are definitely not ready for a confrontation with China over Taiwan, especially now that we have begun the process of expelling large numbers of officials out of their troops. Mass lay-offs are happening in major industries across the country at this point. Just imagine what our country is going to look like when this mandate hits our already short-staffed supply chains.
And while governments continue to create, borrow and spend artificially created money at breakneck speed, food prices will continue to hit new highs and the people will ultimately have to pay for the crisis our leaders created. We cannot forget that a global energy crisis is also fast spreading around the world, and if things are bad now, just wait until food processing plants around the world start to be shut down for extended periods. Then we will see real chaos taking over. On top of everything, a series of other unpredictable factors will combine to continue to suppress agricultural production all over the planet. That means that this time we actually have to agree with the Chinese government: Stock up while you still can because things are starting to rapidly spiral out of control.