Wheat is a commodity input that goes into many food products, from pasta to bread to baked sweets. Wheat futures on Chicago's commodities exchange more than doubled in September 2007 compared to the previous year, going from $3.95 a bushel to nearly $9. What's driving up wheat prices is a matter of simple supply and demand, as bad weather, including a spate of hurricanes, have created shortages of this important grain.
The chart at left shows continuous front-month futures contracts for Wheat traded on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) in cents per bushel.
Wheat is a truly global commodity input, as it is used for bread and pasta in Western countries and noodles in Asian countries. When wheat prices rise, companies are faced with the dilemma of taking a hit to gross margins or passing on cost increases to the consumer, which often decreases demand.