"April 18 (Bloomberg) -- At a time when consumers are focused on food costs that are within about 3 percent of a record, stockpiles of edible oils needed to make everything from noodles to fish sticks are dropping to a three-decade low. The combined stocks of nine oils will plunge 25 percent to 9.39 million metric tons this year, or about 23 days of demand, the fewest since 1974, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Palm oil prices will climb as much as 23 percent to 4,000 ringgit ($1,324) a ton by Dec. 31, based on the median in a Bloomberg survey of 11 analysts and traders. ... As the global population expanded 85 percent in the past four decades, demand for edible oils rose almost ninefold. ... “The world cannot afford any crop problem this year, anywhere,” said Steve Nicholson, a commodity procurement specialist at International Food Products Corp., a distributor and adviser on food ingredients in Fenton, Missouri. “Without a cushion of inventories, any production hiccup in the northern hemisphere this year will be catastrophic and leave today’s prices looking cheap.” Vegetable oils have been left behind in this year’s surge in food costs, which the United Nations says rose to a record in February. ..." Much more at: http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ag9Wmzd631Rg&pos=7 Billy T comment: IMHO desire for democracy, free speech, etc. has little to do with the unrest in N. Aftrica and the Mid East. Those freedoms were absent 30+ years ago. What has changed is that for much of their populations their jobs, if they have one, will not feed their families. As Egypt is now learning, getting rid of an oppressive dictator does not solve the fundamental problem (food affordability) which is very likely to grow much worse. Where do you foresee this going, even in the US as budget problems shrink assistance to the poor?