Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
is there any relation to the shift towards biofuel crops?

rising food prices is a world wide phenomenon right now and I saw an interview with Joseph Stiglitz where he said "if you turn food into fuel, then with rising fuel prices, the price of food will increase".

Why France ? Well, I'm sure a france-based commentator will know better than me but it may be a cultural thing. The french simply may not base their diet around imported processed food in the way that others do. Plus I was told that whilst the rest of europe uses canadian and American wheat for bread, the french tend to use local wheat as it gives it the preferrred texture.

It would be interesting to find out if other countries with strong local fresh food cultures such as Spain Italy or Greece are suffering. I know that Italy has a problem with durum wheat prices, but that is cos they import most of it now.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:51:27 AM EST
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Wheat in Italy was also hit with a big drought because of low snow in the Alps last year.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:05:26 AM EST
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Most wheat used in France is of local provenance, but that doesn't bring the price down - prices are pretty much global on grain markets, and are very high at the moment. Otherwise it's true that France is more an exporter than an importer of processed foods, and this may have some bearing on retail prices. Which are going up, all the same (even if less than elsewhere).

As to the price of grain, biofuels are part of the problem, but another is Global Warming and the unstable weather conditions it may bring. This year, only the US wheat harvest was a good one. Australian wheat production was hit by drought; overwarm conditions crippled the wheat harvest in Canada and Ukraine; the EU had a mediocre year with heat and rain at the wrong times. EU durum wheat had the same problems, while North Africa also had a bad harvest. Durum wheat makes two staples, pasta and couscous (bulgur etc), the prices of which have risen considerably.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:53:08 AM EST
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Wheat production in the US is concentrated in Hard Red Winter #2 -- used for breads.  Durum wheat production is relatively small and barely grown outside North and South Dakota.

Hard Red plantings increased here for the 2007/2008 growing season.  If I'm reading the data correctly that acreage came at the expense of Soy (Soya) bean production.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:02:34 PM EST
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