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Food price inflation: why companies are losing

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The accelerating pace of food price inflation in recent months has come as a nasty shock to British consumers, who are used to their weekly shop being cheaper relative to household income.

According to data from the British Retail Consortium and NielsenIQ, UK Food prices It was 13.3 percent higher in November than in the same month last year. The National Bureau of Statistics’ official measure is even higher, at 16 percent for the same month. Prices haven’t risen at this rate since the late 1970s.

All supermarkets say their prices are rising at a slower rate than Address numberswhich does not allow shoppers to trade in cheaper products or simply buy less.

But they also admit that customers are antsy and are looking to economize any way they can. Many have publicly stated that they will forgo some profits this year to keep pricing competitive.

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If they do not benefit from the high prices, then who – if any -?

Feed, fuel and fertilizer

The most important costs across the food chain are the “three staples” – feed, fuel and fertilizer. Price increases for these products are felt first by farmers, followed by processors, and finally by retailers and their customers.

Processors are often protected from price increases for a while by pre-purchasing components. That means it’s quite normal for price increases to take six months or more to pass through to the consumer, said Charles Hall, head of research at Peel Hunt.

“If you take dairy, farmers started seeing feed prices go up at the end of 2021. Then that accelerated into 2022 with the Ukraine war, but milk prices didn’t really start to go up until May,” he said.

He added that livestock farming was particularly affected by the rise in feed prices, as it accounts for up to 70 percent of the cost of raising chickens and pigs.

Prices for many commodities have fallen since then, but some processors will still be on contracts agreed upon months ago when conditions were different.

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“You may still have another six months before that [raw material costs] Hall said.

In its semi-annual results in September, takeaway company Bakafor said it expected “significant” inflation to continue throughout 2023, after forecasting a 12-14 percent rise in the current fiscal year.

The dollar hits

Even if global commodity prices fall, there is a complicating factor for UK and European food producers.

The US dollar has strengthened this year – partly because it usually happens during times of geopolitical uncertainty and partly because the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates more quickly than other central banks.

Forward purchasing and treasury management will have to mitigate some of this impact. But the effects of a strong dollar – the currency in which all globally traded commodities are priced – are still being felt for the rest of 2023.

Global Warming

Most areas of food processing and retail are not very energy intensive and historically the industry has paid little attention to the cost of gas and electricity because they were a relatively small component of overall production costs.

That changed with a vengeance in 2022. Companies like Premier Foods, meat processor Hilton, poultry giant 2 Sisters and Associated British Foods often pay three times more for energy than they did last year, driving up food prices.

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Hall said the prices of many winter vegetables will rise because farmers who use greenhouses incur higher heating costs. Cucumbers and peppers have already been affected, with prices rising and local yields declining as some growers decide it is no longer cost-effective.

Although wholesale gas prices have fallen from their 2022 peak, British government support to help companies deal with sharply higher energy prices is set to become less generous from April.

Wage-price spiral

One big issue for food producers and retailers predates the Ukraine crisis: labor costs.

In the UK, the minimum wage – paid to most workers in the food industry – has risen from £7.20 in 2016, to £9.50 now, and will rise by another 9.7 per cent to £10.42 in April.

Most supermarkets are already paying more to attract staff after older workers leave the labor market and there are fewer arrivals from Eastern Europe due to Brexit.

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Employment is also a problem for the labor-intensive parts of food production, such as meat and poultry processing and fruit raising, which were also dependent on low-wage workers from Eastern Europe.

Ministers launched a visa scheme for seasonal farm workers, allocating 45,000 this year. But additional administrative expenses and the need to look as far away as Indonesia and Nepal for workers drove up costs. Farm labor costs rose 13 percent in the year ending fall 2022, according to data compiled by the National Farmers Federation.

Rising costs particularly affected egg farmers, who reduced their flocks because the costs outweighed the prices they received for eggs, leading to shortages on UK supermarket shelves. Dairy farmers, by contrast, have benefited from sharply higher milk costs, which has helped them recover, said Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital. “It really is a complex panorama of winners and losers.”

Brand strength

Rising prices for many things at once has left companies throughout the supply chain scrambling to cut other costs and calculating how much increases they can pass on without losing market share.

Large branded food groups such as Nestle, Unilever and Mars have much larger profit margins than processors and retailers. Their brand strength makes it easier for them to push price increases while superior profitability allows them more leeway to absorb increased costs.

“Global A-tier manufacturers have been tougher — because they can be, because they control their brands — in the face of price hikes,” Black said.

Most of them have been hit by profit margins in 2022: Unilever’s operating margin, for example, fell 2 percentage points to 15.2 percent in the first half of the previous year. One group bucking the trend was Premier Foods, which makes Mr. Kipling’s scones and Sharwood’s sauces, resulting in higher trading profit margins than two years earlier.

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Shoppers are beginning to turn to supermarket brands to save money, but profitability in the companies that produce these goods is low. “Private-brand manufacturers, who tend to incur inflation early and cost recovery late, are challenged by the current inflationary environment,” Black said.

Food retailing is a very close-knit industry in the UK, with the four largest traditional supermarkets – Tesco, J Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – plus discounters Aldi and Lidl controlling more than four-fifths of the market. But the competition is stiff and recent history suggests that those who don’t maintain competitive prices lose customers very quickly.

And profits are anemic: even at market leader Tesco, operating margin was 3.9 per cent in the UK and Ireland in the first six months of the year, and costs have escalated further since then.

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Economic

We need to pay more attention to skewed economic signals

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The writer is chair of Queen’s College, Cambridge and advisor to Allianz and Gramercy

Inflation was the dominant economic and financial issue of 2022 for most countries around the world, especially for advanced economies that have a consequential impact on the global economy and markets.

The effects have been seen in declining living standards, increasing inequality, increasing borrowing costs, stock and bond market losses, and occasional financial mishaps (fortunately small and so far contained).

In this new year, recession, both actual and feared, has joined inflation in the driving seat of the global economy and is likely to replace it. It’s a development that makes the global economy and investment portfolios subject to a wide range of possible outcomes — something that a growing number of bond investors seem to be aware of more than their equity counterparts.

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International Monetary Fund iYou will likely review soon Her economic growth forecasts again, predicting that “a third of the world will be hit by recession this year”. What is particularly notable to me about these worsening global prospects is not only that the world’s three major economic regions – China, the European Union and the United States – are slowing down together, but also that this is happening for different reasons.

In China, a chaotic exit from the wrong Covid-19 policy is undermining demand and causing more supply disruptions. Such headwinds to domestic and global economic well-being will continue as long as China fails to improve the coverage and effectiveness of its vaccination efforts. The strength and sustainability of the subsequent recovery will also require that the country more vigorously renew a growth model that can no longer rely on greater globalization.

The European Union continues to deal with energy supply disruptions as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. Strengthening inventory management and reorientation of energy supplies is well advanced in many countries. However, it is not yet sufficient to lift immediate constraints on growth, let alone resolve long-term structural headwinds.

The United States has the least problematic view. The headwinds to growth are due to the Fed’s struggle to contain inflation after mischaracterizing rate increases as fleeting and then initially being too timid to adjust monetary policy.

The Fed’s shift to an aggressive front-load of interest rate hikes came too late to prevent the spread of inflation in the services sector and wages. As such, inflation is likely to remain stubborn at around 4 percent, be less sensitive to interest rate policies and expose the economy to greater risk for accidents from additional policy errors that undermine growth.

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The uncertainties facing each of these three economic areas suggest that analysts should be more careful in reassuring us that recessionary pressures will be “short and shallow”. They need to be open, if only to avoid repeating the mistake of prematurely dismissing inflation as transient.

This is especially important because these diverse drivers of recessionary risk make financial fragility more threatening and policy shifts more difficult, including potentially Japan. Get out of interest rate control Policy. The range of possible outcomes is extraordinarily large.

On the one hand, a better policy response, including improving the supply response and protecting the most vulnerable populations, can counteract the global economic slowdown and, in the case of the United States, avert a recession.

On the other hand, additional policy errors and market turmoil can lead to self-reinforcing vicious cycles with rising inflation and rising interest rates, weakening credit and compressed earnings, and stressing market performance.

Judging by market prices, more bond investors are better understanding this, including by refusing to follow the Fed’s interest rate guidance this year. Instead of a sustainable path to higher rates for 2023, they believe recessionary pressures will lead to cuts later this year. If true, government bonds would provide the yield and potential for badly missed portfolio risk mitigation in 2022.

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However, parts of the stock market is still weakly bearish pricing. Reconciling these different scenarios is more important than investors. Without better alignment within markets and with policy signals, the positive economic and financial outcomes we all desire will be no less likely. They will also be challenged by the risk of more unpleasant outcomes at a time of less economic and human resilience.

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Economic

Macro hedge funds end 2022 higher, investors say, while many others take big losses By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, January 5, 2023. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Svea Herbst Baylis

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some hedge funds betting on macroeconomic trends have boasted of double and even triple-digit gains for 2022, while other high-profile companies that have long been on technology stocks have suffered heavy losses in volatile markets, investors said.

Rokos Capital, run by Chris Rokos and one of a handful of so-called global macro companies, gained 51% last year. Fund investors this week, who asked not to be identified, said Brevan Howard Asset Management, the company where Rokos once worked, posted a gain of 20.14% and Caxton Associates returned 16.73%.

Haider Capital Management’s Haider Jupiter Fund rose 193%, an investor said.

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Data from hedge fund research showed that many macro managers have avoided crumbling stock markets that have been rocked by rapid interest rate increases and geopolitical turmoil, including the war in Ukraine, to rank among the best performers in the hedge fund industry. The company’s macro index rose 14.2% while the general index of hedge funds fell 4.25%, its first loss since 2018.

Equity hedge funds, where the bulk of the industry’s roughly $3.7 trillion in assets are invested, fared worse with a loss of 10.4%, according to HFR data. And while that beat the broader stock market’s loss of 19.4%, some high-profile funds posted even bigger losses.

Tiger Global Management lost 56% while Whale Rock Capital Management ended the year with a 43% loss and Maverick Capital lost 23%. Coatue Management ended 2022 with a loss of 19%.

But not all companies that bet on technology stocks suffered. John Thaler JAT Capital finished the year with a 3.7% gain after fees after a 33% increase in 2021 and a 46% gain in 2020.

Sculptor Capital Management (NYSE::), where founder Dan Och is fighting the company’s current CEO in court over his salary increase, posted a 13% drop.

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David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital, which bet that Elon Musk would be forced to buy Twitter, ended the year up 37% while Rick Sandler’s Eminence Capital rose 7%.

A number of so-called multi-manager companies where teams of portfolio managers bet on a variety of sectors also boast positive returns and have been able to deliver on their promise that hedge funds can deliver better returns in distressed markets.

Balyasny’s Atlas Fund (NYSE: Enhanced) gained 9.7%, while Point72 Asset Management gained 10%. Millennium Management gained 12% while Carlson Capital ended the year with a 7% gain.

Representatives for the companies either did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment.

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German automakers point to easing supply chain problems

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Sales at BMW and Mercedes-Benz jumped in the final months of 2022 as the German premium auto brands indicated supply chain problems plaguing the industry were abating.

Automakers around the world have experienced parts shortages since the pandemic, especially semiconductors, leaving many of them with large fleets of incomplete vehicles that can’t be delivered to customers.

BMW and Mercedes each said their full-year vehicle deliveries fell last year by 4.8 percent and 1 percent, respectively, due to Suppliers Bottlenecks as well as lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine.

But supply pressures eased in the last quarter of the year, as BMW recorded a 10.6 percent jump in sales, with 651,798 vehicles delivered, and Mercedes fulfilling 540,800 orders, up 17 percent from the same period in 2022.

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BMW He said the main effects of supply chain bottlenecks and continued lockdowns were felt in the first six months of the year, adding that “sales were steadily picking up in the second half.”

Mercedes boss Ula Kallenius told the Financial Times last week that the list of problems in the auto supply chain was declining, but added that long waits for cars would continue into 2023.

“One chip is enough to be vital [ . . .] Missing, and then you can’t finish the car, even if you have everything else.

Both brands recorded strong sales growth electric car. Mercedes, which last week announced a plan to build 10,000 charging docks, said EV shipments grew 124 percent to 117,800 last year compared with its predecessor.

Similarly, BMW reported strong growth in electric vehicle sales, with deliveries of fully electric vehicles doubling last year to 215,755.

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Analysts at Bank of America said that sales of electric vehicles, including hybrid cars, reached a historic peak last November, with 1.1 million units sold. They attributed this largely to the upcoming phase-out of customer subsidies in Germany.

Participate in Mercedes BMW and BMW prices held steady Tuesday morning as investors priced in an image of an improving showing.

Rolls-Royce, a subsidiary of BMW, announced Monday that sales have hit a 119-year record, driven by strong demand in the United States, its largest market.

The luxury brand has been largely unaffected by the semiconductor pressure, mainly because it makes relatively few compounds and therefore needs fewer chips.

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