ST. LOUIS (AP) - U.S. reserves of corn have hit their lowest level in over 15 years in part because of higher demand from the ethanol industry, reflecting tighter supplies that will lead to higher food prices in 2011.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday that the ethanol industry demand for corn rose 8.4 percent, to 50 million bushels, after record-high production in December and January.
That means the United States will have about 675 million bushels of corn left over at the end of year. That's roughly 5 percent of all corn that will be consumed, the lowest surplus level since 1996.
Corn prices have already doubled in the last six months, rising from $3.50 a bushel to more than $7 a bushel.