Food speculation – how betting on food commodities fuels Mexico’s tortilla crisis

| 13th September 2011
Corn seller

As the national staple, corn is sold on almost every street in Mexico

A surge in financial speculation on maize is causing vastly inflated prices for corn tortillas - a sacred staple in Mexico - and threatening the health and livelihoods of the country's poor. Tom Levitt investigates

Lorenzo Canseco Hernandez and his wife Genoveva know little about international markets or food speculation. But they can explain the impact the recent jump in corn prices has had on their life.

In the isolated mountains of Oaxaca, South Mexico, where they live, it is coffee production that fuels the local economy. With coffee prices unpredictable, they rely on stable prices for their national staple corn.

'It has not only doubled but also in fact tripled. Because 2 years ago, corn cost 2 pesos, but now it costs 6 pesos or even 6.50 per kilo. Before, corn tortillas cost 2 or 3 pesos, but now costs 12 pesos per kilo,' says Lorenzo.

To read the full investigation, click here.

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