CHICAGO — Commodities prices have fallen steeply in recent weeks, driven down primarily by the broader market turmoil caused by the international credit crisis.
Wheat futures last week fell to less than $6 per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, down from $7.43 in early September and down from record highs of $13.49 in late February. Corn was trading at $4.11 per bushel, down from $5.20 in early September and a record high of more than $8 in July. Soybeans were trading at less than $9 per bushel, down from $11.73 in early September, off of record highs of $16.37 in July.
These declines, along with the similar, sudden easing of the price of crude oil and fuel, could be a silver lining in an otherwise cloudy economic forecast for meat, poultry and egg suppliers, as well as bakers and other food manufacturers that have been pressured by skyrocketing input costs for the past two years.
While row-crop farmers are facing pressures of their own this year — related to higher fuel and fertilizer costs — the U.S. Department of Agriculture's October Crop Production report forecast this year's corn and soybean harvests to come in well ahead of earlier estimates. With supplies plentiful, and non-commercial speculators apparently exiting the commodities markets for now, prices for animal feed, flour and corn syrup could be held lower for the foreseeable future.