Sean O'Grady: Biggest impact on the UK will be via spiralling housing costs

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The Independent Online

For people in Britain, the most significant impact of the great food crisis is that it will cost more to buy a house. The causation runs like this: spiralling food and other commodity prices push inflation up across the world, long term.

Some years will be worse than others but the formidable coalition of forces driving prices higher will persist, even if the world embraces GM technology to boost yields. That means central banks will be confronted with a persistent inflationary force not seen before, and they will have to set interest rates higher to counter the pressure on inflation. Hence higher mortgage rates and bills.

We may be about to witness a step-change in global financial conditions, and that will prove much more damaging to UK family budgets than inflation in food prices. Most of the costs involved in bringing food to our table are for labour, transport and capital.

Poorer nations with large populations and relatively small food production – such as Nigeria and Pakistan – are most at risk. The future food superpowers will have relatively small populations but plenty of crops and livestock – such as Argentina and New Zealand. As always, even the grimmest of trends produces winners and losers.