Friday, May 20, 2011

Wheat Reliance by the Middle Eastern Nations

The WSJ describes the impact of higher wheat prices upon the Middle Eastern nations, in particular:
  • Wheat is the biggest dietary staple in much of the Middle East, providing cheap nutrition in bread, pasta and couscous.
  • Tunisians eat more wheat than anyone on the planet: 478 pounds per person a year, compared to 177 pounds in the U.S. Egyptians and Algerians also eat more than twice as much wheat as Americans.
  • Unable to grow enough wheat at home, countries like Egypt and Tunisia buy half or more of what they need from other countries, and pass it along at deep discounts to their impoverished populations.
  • Imports in Middle Eastern countries are expected to increase as populations grow. The World Bank study said the region's cereal imports could rise 55% above 2000 levels by 2030.
  • "Arab countries will become more and more vulnerable to global food-price shocks" absent mitigating steps.