Food Supply

July 17, 1943

Report Outline
Food Supply Dislocations in Time of War
Food Control and the Problem of Subsidies
Food Supplies and Controls in World War I
Present Problems of Demand and Supply
Special Focus

Food Supply Dislocations in Time of War

Every housewife has been familiar for months with the vagaries of the food supply which have recently received the excited attention of war administrators, members' of Congress, governors, mayors, and leaders in the food industries. During the weeks before March 29, when rationing of meats, butter, cheese and cooking fats was instituted, the first two of these products almost vanished from the food shops. Potatoes disappeared in May. Dried fruits, with the exception of raisins, have become rare commodities, and various fresh vegetables, in supply one day, are lacking the next. Now, in mid-July, the meat shortage has returned in more acute form; poultry is scarce; butter supply is diminishing.

Food Supply Dislocations in Time of War

Economists explain that the United States is passing through a period of inevitable dislocations due to the imposition of necessary wartime controls upon a “free economy.” Rationing and price fixing, they say, is bound to cause obstructions to the normal processes of getting the food supplies from farm to table. The situation is complicated by the extraordinary wartime demands. Men in the armed forces eat more than they did in civilian life; civilians with larger than accustomed incomes show increased food wants, both in Quantity and quality; lend-lease is making increasing calls upon the American larder.

If government controls were removed, the laws of supply and demand would reassert themselves with ruthless force. Prices would rise sharply, lower income groups would find themselves unable to purchase adequate food supplies, labor troubles would multiply, the country would probably find itself launched on a price inflation that would threaten the whole economy before it ran its course.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jul. 17, 1943  Food Supply
Farm Produce and Commodities