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Biofuels impact on crop and food prices: using an interactive spreadsheet

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Author Info

  • Scott Baier
  • Mark Clements
  • Charles Griffiths
  • Jane Ihrig

Abstract

This paper examines the effect that biofuels production has had on commodity and global food prices. The innovative contribution of this paper is the interactive spreadsheet that allows the reader to choose the assumptions behind the estimates. By allowing the reader to choose the country, time period, supply and demand elasticities, and the size of indirect effects we explicitly illustrate the sensitivity of the estimated effect of biofuels production on prices. Our best estimates suggest that the increase in biofuels production over the past two years has had a sizeable impact on corn, sugar, barley and soybean prices, but a much smaller impact on global food prices. ; Over the past two years (ending June 2008), we estimate that the increase in worldwide biofuels production pushed up corn, soybean and sugar prices by 27, 21 and 12 percentage points respectively. The countries that account for most of the upward pressure on these prices are the United States and Brazil. Our best estimates suggest that the increase in U.S. biofuels production (ethanol and biodiesel) pushed up corn prices by more than 22 percentage points and soybean prices (soybeans and soybean oil) by more than 15 percentage points, while the increase in EU biofuels production pushed corn and soybean prices up around 3 percentage points. Brazil's increase in sugar-based ethanol production accounts for the entire rise in the price of sugar. ; Although biofuels had a noticeable impact on individual crop prices, they had a much smaller impact on global food prices. Our best estimate suggests that the increase in worldwide biofuels production over the past two years accounts for just over 12 percent of the rise in the IMF's food price index. The increase in U.S. biofuels production accounts for roughly 60 percent of this effect, while Brazil accounts for 14 percent and the EU accounts for 15 percent. The key take-away point is that nearly 90 percent of the rise in global food prices comes from factors other than biofuels.

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File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/2009/967/default.htm
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File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/2009/967/ifdp967.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 967.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:967

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Related research

Keywords: Prices ; Farm produce;

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Cited by:
  1. Janda, Karel & Kristoufek, Ladislav & Zilberman, David, 2011. "Biofuels: review of policies and impacts," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1119, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  2. Irene Scher & Jonathan Koomey, 2011. "Is accurate forecasting of economic systems possible?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(3), pages 473-479, February.
  3. Condon, Nicole & Klemick, Heather & Wolverton, Ann, 2013. "Impacts of Ethanol Policy on Corn Prices: A Review and Meta-Analysis of Recent Evidence," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 149940, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  4. Timilsina, Govinda R. & Shrestha, Ashish, 2010. "Biofuels : markets, targets and impacts," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5364, The World Bank.
  5. Phil Briggs & Carly Harker & Tim Ng & Aidan Yao, 2011. "Fluctuations in the international prices of oil, dairy products, beef and lamb between 2000 and 2008: A review of market-specific demand and supply factors," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series DP2011/02, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

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