Food prices have risen more than 40% in the past 12 months. And the sharp rise has, in part, led to food shortages that have prompted massive riots in Egypt, Haiti and China. And now the UN is forecasting more food shortages.
With about 40% of the world's agricultural land seriously degraded and oil prices at record levels, prices of feed poultry and dairy cows are causing prices of wheat, soybean and maize to skyrocket.
With overall crop outputs lagging demand, desperate farmers who wish to capitalize off record prices are now using a wide array of organic and inorganic fertilizers to help boost production.
With this in mind, we have set up a World Food Shortage Plays portfolio on Stockpickr.com to help develop stock ideas to capitalize off this global trend.Making the list is Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT - Get Report), which manufactures and sells solid and liquid phosphate fertilizers and animal feed supplements worldwide. Potash is by far the world's largest producer of potash, producing 23% of the world's supply. The potash fertilizer comes from mines concentrated primarily in northern Canada, which gives the Saskatchewan-based company direct access to these mines. In fact, it also controls almost all of the world's unused supply, and has deliberately held back production to keep potash prices high. It is also the third largest phosphate producer and fourth largest nitrogen producer. Another stock that makes the list is Eden Biosciences (EDEN), a tiny company that markets Messenger, a highly effective and revolutionary gardening product. If you talk to any serious horticulturalists, they likely love the Messenger product. Discovered at Cornell University's School of Agriculture, Messenger taps protein molecules inside plants that trigger certain responses in cells that help them grow, to make them resist disease and to produce additional flower and fruit. Eden has the exclusive marketing rights to the product through its home and garden distribution business. If more gardeners are forced to get more return from their plants, this micro-cap stock is likely to benefit. Another company to keep an eye on is Terra Industries (TRA), which produces various nitrogen fertilizers. Terra Industries is one of the cheapest fertilizer companies in the sector with a forward P/E of 11.6. Also worth pointing out is its gigantic short position of 31%. For more stock ideas, check out the World Food Shortage Plays, which includes Deere (DE - Get Report), Monsanto (MON - Get Report) and DuPont (DD - Get Report) on Stockpickr.com. Also, here are some Freakonomics Clean Water Stocks, including GE (GE - Get Report). Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Eden Biosciences to be a small-cap stock. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.