Cargill CEO Says Global Food Prices to Stay High on Labor Crunch


·         Energy crisis and tight freight markets are adding to costs

·         Food versus fuel fight to become more intense, MacLennan says


By Alfred Cang, Bloomberg 

November 17, 2021


Food prices will likely stay elevated in 2022 as disruptions to the global supply chain are set to persist, according to the head of Cargill Inc., who highlighted labor shortages as one of the biggest risks facing the industry.


Whether it’s meat processors, truckers, warehouse operators or port staff, the global food system is seeing more competition for workers.


Plants are not running at full capacity, constraining food supplies and creating the potential for further price gains, said David MacLennan, chief executive officer of the agriculture powerhouse.


“I thought inflation in ags and food was transitory. I feel less so now because of continued shortages in labor markets,” MacLennan said in an interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore. “That’s one of the inputs to the supply chain that we’re watching most carefully.”


World food prices climbed to a decade high in October, threatening even higher grocery bills for households and potentially worsening global hunger. Whether it’s fruit pickers, meat processors, warehouse operators or port workers, the global food ecosystem is stressed due to a lack of staff.


Bad weather hit harvests this year, freight costs soared and labor shortages have roiled the food supply chain. Add to that an energy crisis that’s caused a dramatic surge in fertilizer bills for farmers all around the world.


MacLennan said in September that soaring food costs would prove transitory and should dissipate in time. Since then, the rally in energy prices and continued supply-chain snarls have made markets “a lot tighter,” he said...


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