Do biofuels make food more expensive? My dealer says: no!

There has been a lot of dicussion in the media recently about biofuels.  Many people, even U.N. officials, claim that producing biofuels is pushing up the cost of producing food and thus making it more difficult to fund projects in third-world countries.

The issue is so important, that my car dealer has sent out a newsletter to inform his bio-ethanol customers how he sees the situation.

He agrees that the price of basic foodstuffs has risen, but points out that the price of grain on the world markets is at the same level as it was in 1980.

The reason for this is apparently that during the 1990s the EU and the USA there was an overproduction of grain which, coupled with subsidies, led to the price dropping so much that it often cost more to transport a sack of grain that the contents of the sack itself were worth.

I remember at the end of the 1990s being involved in projects campaigning for the “fair pricing” of goods from third-world countries.  Farmers in those countries should have a fair chance to sell their produce on the world markets, but were being forced to sell at artificially low prices due to the subsidies of the wealthier countries.

The rising food prices are down to these policies, and not due to biofuel production, he claims.  Indeed, he continues by writing that less than 1% of the world biomass production goes towards making biofuels.  It is unlikely that such a small percentage could have such a large effect on food prices.

It is also worth noting, that European biofuels are made from sources such as sugar-beet – and mainly from extra-production or as a secondary product.

So I shall carry on filling up my car with bio-ethanol with a clear conscience.

Petrol prices in 2007

Whilst I may now be filling up with bio-ethanol, I am still interested in the price of normal (95 octane) petrol for my wife’s car. And having just written 3 blog entries about the prices of things going up, I went back through the log book to see if this was true of petrol as well.

We tend to see the price of petrol as something that goes up and down, although more up than down, especially in the summer months.

Actually, it started the year at 1,239EUR/litre and finished off at 1,369EUR/litre – no question about that being a price increase then.

But in-between it reached 1,419EUR/litre (or even more, but we didn’t fill up when it did!) in May, returning to 1,289EUR/litre in August. So even if there was an overall increase, it did go back and forth during the year.

How we long for the Summer of 2003 when we first bought the car, and paid as little as 1,034EUR/litre!

Electricity prices

Every year I have the feeling that our electricity bill has gone up.

The electricity company estimates at the beginning of the year how much you are going to use, and then charges you monthly based on this estimate. At the end of the year they either refund or charge you the difference to your actual usage.

Normally they estimate quite well, but I still end up paying a difference at the end of the year because the price of the electricity itself has gone up.

Now the Tagesschau news has reported that prices have indeed gone up – by 50% in the last 7 years.

It seems to me that the electricity companies are making huge profits, and still passing on price rises, eg. in the oil price, to their customers. My supplier even has a bonus card scheme where you can get discounted entry to theme parks etc.

I don’t want discounts! I just want to pay a reasonable price for my electricity without the big shock at the end of each year!

Please click on ACCEPT to give us permission to set cookies [more information]

This website uses cookies to give you the best browsing experience possible. Cookies are small text files that are stored by the web browser on your computer. Most of the cookies that we use are so-called “Session cookies”. These are automatically deleted after your visit. The cookies do not damage your computer system or contain viruses. Please read our privacy information page for more details or to revoke permission.