CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. grain prices should stay unrelentingly high this year, according to a Reuters poll, the latest sign that the era of cheap food has come to an end.
U.S. corn, soybeans and wheat prices -- which surged by as much has 50 percent last year and hit their highest levels since mid-2008 -- will dip by at most 5 percent by the end of 2011, according to the poll of 16 analysts.
The forecasts suggest no quick relief for nations bedeviled by record high food costs that have stoked civil unrest. It means any extreme weather event in a grains-producing part of the world could send prices soaring further.....
"Even if we have a good year, we are not going to have the inventories we've seen before. I really do think the time of cheap food prices is over, and that's just it," said analyst Chris Mann of Traders Group Inc in Chicago.