Food Versus Fuel Session at Biodiesel Conference

Cindy Zimmerman

NBB conference 08One of the most popular sessions at this week’s National Biodiesel Conference in Orlando was “What’s the Rule on Food Vs. Fuel?” which featured a panel of experts including Chris Schroeder with Centrec Consulting, Jim Duffield with USDA and John Urbanchuk of LECG, LLC.

All speakers made the point that biofuels may be getting the blame for higher prices, but energy costs in general are a much bigger factor. Urbanchuk says raw commodity prices play a very small role in food prices. “In fact, the work that we’ve done indicates that energy prices have roughly twice the impact that any individual commodity such as corn and soybeans do in determining retail food prices.”

NBB conference 08He says that food items where corn and soybeans play a major role only account about 25 percent of the food basket.

The panel also drove home the point that additional feedstocks will help alleviate the food versus fuel debate and that it is important for the industry to educate the media and consumers about the real reasons behind higher food prices.

You can listen to an interview with Urbanchuk here: [audio:]

You can also get complete coverage of the National Biodiesel Conference on the conference blog.

See 2008 National Biodiesel Conference photos on theFlicker Photo Album from the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference by clicking here.

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