Peak wheat is the concept that agricultural production, due to its high use of water and energy inputs, is subject to the same profile as oil and gas production. The central tenet being that a point is reached, the "peak", beyond which agricultural production plateaus and does not grow any further. In fact production may even go into permanent decline.
Based on current supply and demand factors for agricultural commodities (e.g. changing diets in the emerging economies, biofuels, declining acreage under irrigation, growing global population, stagnant farm productivity growth), some commentators are predicting a long-term annual production shortfall of around 2% which based on the highly inelastic demand curve for food crops could lead to sustained price increases in excess of 10% a year - sufficient to double crop prices in 7 years.
Water is a necessary input for food production. Two billion people face acute water shortage this century as Himalayan glaciers melt. Water shortages in China have helped lower the wheat harvest from its peak of 123 million tons in 1997 to below 100 million tons in recent years. Of China's 617 cities, 300 are facing water shortages. In many, these shortfalls can be filled only by diverting water from agriculture. Farmers cannot compete economically with industry for water in China. China is developing a grain deficit even with the over-pumping of its aquifers. Grain production in China has been said to have peaked in 1998 at 392 million tons, falling below 350 million tons in 2000, 2001, and 2002, although such was 571 million tons in 2011 after eight consecutive years of increase from 2003 to 2011. The annual deficits have been filled by drawing down the country's extensive grain reserves, and by reliance on the world grain market. Some predict that China will soon become the world's largest importer of grain.
Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan
Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are ensuring that their own markets have wheat. To do this they have restricted exports and levied tariffs on wheat. Higher prices are not meeting any opposition from desperate buyers.
- Other resource peaks
- IFDC, World Fertilizer Prices Soar, http://www.ifdc.org/i-wfp021908.pdf
- "Investing In Agriculture - Food, Feed & Fuel", Feb 29th 2008 at http://www.stockhouse.ca/blogs.asp?page=viewblog&blogid=1482
- "Could we really run out of food?", Jon Markman, March 6, 2008 at http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/SuperModels/CouldWeReallyRunOutOfFood.aspx
- Andrew McKillop (2006-12-13). "Peak Natural Gas is On the Way"
- Agcapita Farmland Investment Partnership - Peak oil v. Peak Wheat, July 1, 2008, http://www.farmlandinvestmentpartnership.com/pdfs/Agcapita_Newsletter_-_July_1_2008.pdf
- Globe Investor at http://www.globeinvestor.com/servlet/WireFeedRedirect?cf=GlobeInvestor/config&date=20080408&archive=nlk&slug=00011064
- Credit Suisse First Boston, Higher Agricultural Prices: Opportunities and Risks, November 2007
- Food Production May Have to Double by 2030 - Western Spectator http://westernspectator.com/?p=272
- Agriculture and Food — Agricultural Production Indices: Food production per capita index, World Resources Institute
- Joydeep Gupta (2008-02-06). "Two billion face water famine as Himalayan glaciers melt". Indian Muslim News and Information. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Raja M (2006-07-21). "India grows a grain crisis". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Lester R. Brown and Brian Halweil (1998). "China's Water Shortage Could Shake World Grain Markets". Worldwatch Institute. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Xinhua (2011-12-27). "China stresses stable grain production". China Daily. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- Lester R. Brown (2002-08-09). "Water deficits growing in many countries - Water Shortages May Cause Food Shortages". Great Lakes Directory. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Lester Brown (2004-03-12). "China's Shrinking Grain Harvest". The Globalist. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Jon Markman (2008-03-06). "Could we really run out of food?". MSN Money.