The World Cup of Food prices

Over the last few weeks I have been pondering the impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on us normal South Africans. Looking at the influx of people, we will have well over 600 000 people visiting us in a 6-8 week period. I had been seeing reports of price escalations in the order of 200-500%. And that’s just not for accommodation and flights, it’s for everything! Every single person will be looking at making their slice of the FIFA pie. A close colleague of mine that works for the hospitality industry said that even burgers in your local steak house will be going for over R 100.00. Being a South African will not preclude you from the higher prices. This set me on the path of planning and preparing for a possible food shortage or trying to get away from paying high prices for food during our 2010 World Cup. In my research I found that I could now be termed a survivalist… pretty strong words for one that just does not want to pay stupid prices for food during and after the 2010 World Cup. In addition, I have picked up a few additional posts and articles on the “net”, from a looming global food shortage, to total collapse precipitated by a global famine. Just take the time to google “global food shortage 2010” and see what comes up.

Survivalism has taken America by storm, with all of the rumblings about the Global Financial Crisis and the collapse of world currencies, or the threat of Swine Flu. Survivalists and others that see trouble coming are stocking up on all manner of goods, from food and medicine, to guns and ammunition. The survivalist movement is not quite the topic of this post, however there are elements that I have found to be complimentary. One of the sites that I have used for my current research is which by all intents and purposes is a pretty levelheaded site when it comes to “preppers and prepping” as survivalists now like to call “the movement”. Mainly as people are “prepping to survive” various forms and iterations of TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) I can’t fault the logic in most of what they are doing, I like to think of it as “eating insurance”, and this is what brings me to the point of my post.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is almost here. The draw has taken place and the teams know where they are going to play. Everyone in South Africa is scheming of ways to cash in on the World Cup from designing cheap plastic throw-away noise makers to renting out their houses in the hopes that they will make a quick buck. Well, all power to them. That’s the spirit guys, it’s time to take some initiative and make some money.

I’m not a 2010 naysayer, and I’m glad things look like they are pulling together. My concern is for the ordinary people that need to live through the 6-8 weeks of FIFA festivities and the 6 months after that. By all indications South Africa has done an excellent job of preparing to host these 600 000+ revelers that will be flocking to use our hotels, restaurants, bars, taxi’s, busses, guest houses and and and…..

I also know from first hand information that the hospitality industry will be looking at tripling ALL prices for the 6 week duration of the 2010 World Cup. Airfares will be through the roof, hotels and guest houses will be charging a minimum of R 1200.00 per room per night, and some a lot more. Everyone will be trying to get their own fistful of Euro’s or Dollars and the ordinary South African will be caught up in the price escalation.

However and this is a BIG HOWEVER! I have not seen or heard of any preparations for feeding these hungry hoards. I do know of vegetable farms that have retrenched hundreds of staff, I do know of farmers that have just shut down operations as stock theft has not made it worthwhile, and I do know of heirs to farms that will not return as the murder of their parents is far too painful to bear. I also know that South Africa is no longer a net producer of food. We have to import our shortfall now. All of this, even though it’s insignificant in most people’s eyes, it is the makings of a “perfect storm” in the food retail industry. I have yet to hear of a single farmer that has started to plan food production for the 2010 World Cup.

“Why? One just needs to walk into the local supermarket and they will always have food!” Yes they do, but they have tweaked their supply chain to the maximum and very often they (the store) runs out of an item in the front just as the goods are being delivered in the back. That is a perfectly balanced supply chain. They know exactly how much to order every day so that they never run out. They also don’t need to carry a large inventory, as this just ties up cash, storage uses valuable retail space and it increases chances of theft and damage. So the cheapest thing is to have a well oiled supply chain and get it delivered “Just In Time”. This last week has just added weight to my argument as many stores are short of everyday food items, we have been to 3 stores in our local town and there are empty shelves everywhere, and these are guys that plan for the Christmas season every year.

If nobody has prepared or planted to feed the additional half of a million plus mouths, where will that food come from? Are you prepared to pay 3 times the price for your bag of potatoes, rice or can of beans? I firmly believe that there will be a massive increase in shelf prices for many items during and for well after the 2010 World Cup, mainly due to economics. It’s Supply and Demand. Simply put, prices will go up due to a scarcity of available stock. There is nothing that you can do to change that.

You could run and Toi-Toi for lower shelf prices, but the “We Demands” can demand as much as they want, but when there is nothing on the shelves… there is nothing on the shelves. You can’t “We Demand” food to appear from nowhere if the planning and planting has not been done.

And that my friends is what may happen.

Personally we have done a few things to ensure that we can escape the price surge in the 6 weeks during and 6 months post 2010 World Cup. Why 6 months post the World Cup? You may ask. Well it just makes sense.

We will be in the middle of winter and the first time someone will be able to get a seed in the ground is Sept/Oct, add on 3 months for the first fruit to be available on the markets, and another month for prices to start coming down. So it will be January 2011 before our agricultural sector catches-up with the food supply for ordinary South Africans like you and me.

So what are you to do?

A few simple things I believe. It just makes sense and if you prepare correctly you will have cheap food while the rest of South Africa is bleating about the high cost of getting their “daily bread” during a FIFA World Cup.

1)      Plant a Garden and harvest and store as much as possible. Idea’s are: Frozen Carrots, Processed Tomatoes (bottled or frozen), Store some Pumpkins, Onions and potatoes keep well. Plant some dry beans for adding to soups/stews. Make bottled green beans, beetroot, peppers, and some sauces. Just use your noggin, you know what you enjoy. And maybe you’ll have some fun and learn a new skill at the same time.

2)      Buy in Bulk, go to a caterers supply, Makro or eastern / oriental market and haggle for a good bulk price on rice, mielie pap and dry food stuffs. Think of what you don’t mind eating. Learn to pack the food for med-long term storage. (3-6 Months)

3)      But case-lots of canned foods, these store well and make great gifts for friends when they see the prices in shops this coming winter.

4)      Try find a farmer / smallholder that is willing to sell you a whole or share of a pig / sheep / tollie (bull calf) or if you have your own ground, raise your own.

5)      If you live in town, get some hens and get a little laying program going. Hens do not make the noise that Roosters do and provide fantastic bug control and compost additives.

Guys, I’m not professing to be a prophet or doomsayer, however just think of the logistics required to feed well over 600 000 people for 6 weeks+. I guarantee that these guys are coming out for fun…. lots of it. They will not be on a diet, they are going to eat and drink and be merry in excess, all the while paying in Euro’s, US$ and Pounds. Germany ran out of some foodstuffs in the last World Cup and had to import food at exorbitant prices as there was none locally available. We I fear, may be in the same situation.

Those that take pro-active steps now, will be smiling during and after the 2010 World Cup as you will have beaten the system. Well, come to think of it…..that’s not fair… Beating a system that is inherently broken, is like trying to argue with Julias Malema, and the last thing we need to become is a bunch of “We Demands” because we can’t look after our own. God gave you brains and ability, as well as the reasoning power to look at the future and understand that now is a good time to prepare for a possible food shortage or food price escalation.

The worst that could happen is that my prediction would prove false. But then you will have learnt that you would save money by buying in bulk and storing food. You might have learnt to plant a veggie garden, and received the culinary benefit of your own organically grown veggies. If you preserved some of your produce, you may have learnt a new skill, and finally, you would not have lost money to the banks in interest and bank charges. Your “money” would only appreciate in value, as food prices don’t come down… they only go up.  It not like storing something that you will never use.


What’s in our Garden

Our garden is looking better and better by the day, the weeding has been sorted with some concerted effort and at least our garden looks like we care. We have just started to harvest the first of our seeds, and most of the Borlotto Fire Tongues are harvested and busy drying out, De Grace peas are also almost all ready. Then we have the Purple carrots that everyone is jumping up and down for, 1 week guys only 1 week to go. We lost a lot seedlings in our cold-frame due to a caterpillar infestation and now have to replant about 8 cucumber varieties.

All that’s left now is to plant out our new batch of tomatoes into their permanent beds and then start looking at the big harvests from the end of December. We have already had pea’s, beans, carrots, onions, gem’s, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce and patty-pans from this year’s garden but the quantities are still a bit low. Full production is just about to start, and we have been getting some stunning tomatoes for the table, Carbons, Amish Paste, Purple Plums, Tigerella, Brandywines and Oxheart are now adorning our meals and salads, the rest is soon to come.


The Edible Quote

The Edible Quote

Trade increases the wealth and glory of a country; but its real strength and stamina are to be looked for among the cultivators of the land.

~ 1st Earl of Chatham, William Pitt