July 16, 2007
Ice-cream makers frozen out as corn price rises
Suzy Jagger and Carl Mortished
What’s the connection between ethanol, the biofuel produced from corn, and a cherry vanilla ice-cream? Answer: the first is responsible for pushing up the price of the other.
This month, the price of milk in the United States surged to a near-record in part because of the increasing costs of feeding a dairy herd. The corn feed used to feed cattle has almost doubled in price in a year as demand has grown for the grain to produce ethanol.
Christina Seid, whose family have been making ice-cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for 28 years, said yesterday that she expected to have to raise her prices, along with all competitors in the short term. "We are holding out as long as we can, but prices will rise," Ms Seid said.
Amy Green’s Ivanna Cone ice-cream emporium in Lincoln, Nebraska, has already raised its prices for a small cone to $3.50 before tax, up from $2.95 a few months ago. She also estimates that she is paying $150 more a week for the butterfat that she uses in her ice-cream.
The squeeze on ice-cream makers, chocolate manufacturers and pizza companies – all of whom use dairy produce as a raw material – is set to tighten as the price of a gallon of milk in the US – up 55 per cent in the past 12 months in some American states – is now the same as a gallon of petrol, with dairy prices accelerating faster than the cost of fuel.
Prices for dairy products have also risen because of increasing demand from China and the Middle East along with the drought in Australia, reduced subsidies in the European Union and the rocketing cost of corn.