Dinner for Two: Cooking with Commodities

Cooking should be simple: nice food, Italian wine and great company. Are you looking for a nice recipe that can be served warm or cold?


  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 lamb leg steaks (9 oz each, about 1/4 in. thick)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Crush the peppercorns lightly and tip them onto a plate. Press both sides of the steaks onto the peppercorns to coat.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the peppered lamb steaks and pan-fry on a high heat for around 3 minutes on each side. Removed from the pan and rest for 5 minutes, serve with good conversation and wine.

Also this is a great recipe with fluctuating commodity prices. The wine price movement will hurt the most!

Italian wine
Wine producing countries are classified as either 'Old World' -- traditional European producers such as France, Italy and Spain -- or 'New world' suppliers, which refers to the rest of the world, including North & South America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Europe remained the largest producing region responsible for almost two-thirds of world supply. Italy and France compete for the largest share, each totalling around 17%. There is a consistent link between wine grape production and wine production; more wine is produced in years with good harvests. This evidence means that valid analysis can be conducted on the wine sector based on factors such as the weather and planted area.

Sadly this year there has been a reduced grape harvest resulting from Italy's hot, dry summer. Prices have started to rise on reduced output.

Lamb in New Zealand
After a tough year some good news reported by the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Limited -- Economic Service. "The estimate for the year to 30 September 2012 is for the export lamb slaughter to increase 5.7 per cent to 20.1 million. The 2011 spring lamb crop is expected to recover 5.6 per cent from last season's low level of production that was caused by adverse weather in the spring of 2010. Increased lambing percentages are expected to more than make up for the 2.5 percent decrease in the ewe flock."

Black Pepper
The price of black pepper in terms of USD has risen by 40% year-on-year. Prices for black pepper have been rising due to low world stocks and strength in the Indian market. Estimates for world pepper production in 2011 have been pegged at 0.318m tonnes, down 5% on 0.335m tonnes last year. Although production in Vietnam, the main producing country, is expected to rise by 4.5% from 0.11m tonnes to 0.115m tonnes, production in almost all other countries is forecast to be lower. Annual demand for pepper is growing and is likely to reach the level of 0.35m tonnes in 2011, and world stocks are probably going to see a sharp fall as a result.

Olive Oil
Spain is the major producer of olive oil, accounting for 40% of world production. Changes in supply from this country can, therefore, affect market sentiment. Italy produces 25% of global output, Greece 18% and Tunisia 8%. It looks like to Italy's hot, dry summer might have affected the grapes, but they certainly helped the olive crops.

To calculate the actual percentage of the meal could be done, however, my suggestion to you is to take a friend or loved one out to dinner, order peppered lamb, note the price and return to the same restaurant for the same meal in three months' time and see if there has been a price change.

- Nick Peksa, Mintec Ltd.

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