Chocolate fans out there may know all about the latest chocolate happenings, from Hershey’s "Air Delight," a bar of aerated milk chocolate, to Cadbury’s new melt-resistant chocolate, which apparently remains solid even after three hours at 104 degrees. But unless you happen to be a chocoholic who follows the financial news, you may not have heard of “ChocFinger,” a British hedge fund manager named Anthony Ward. In 2010, Ward purchased 240,000 tons of chocolate—seven percent of the global production—and stashed it inside refrigerated warehouses throughout Europe. Ward has been accused by other investors of driving up the price of a commodity that had already seen two year’s worth of price increases. Their worries might be valid. ChocFinger is in a position to influence the market for some time to come: he can continue to store or sell all that chocolate, enough to make over five billion candy bars, until 2030.
This is just one of the “secrets” Kara Newman reveals in The Secret Financial Life of Food: From Commodities Markets to Supermarkets (Columbia University Press, 2013), in which she examines how commodities markets influence what we eat and how much we pay for food. Newman brings a range of talents to her story. She’s a former vice president of strategic research at Thomson Reuters who’s versed in the world of finance. She’s also the Spirits Editor for Wine Enthusiast, writes the weekly “Spirited Traveler” column for Reuters, and has authored two books of cocktail recipes. She’s the sort of writer who can make the history of trading pork bellies or the volatility of global coffee production into a rich and lively read. Join us as Newman takes us into American’s culinary and financial history and gives us a glimpse into our global future.