A shortage of soybeans in the US has pushed prices over US$10 a bushel, twice as much as they were seven months ago, and the knock-on effects are beginning to hit grocery prices.

Prices of cooking oil, vegetarian burgers, soy milk and other soy-based foods are already starting to rise, with the retail price of a 32-ounce bottle of Crisco cooking oil up 21% since November. Some other makers of soy-based foods expect to raise prices by 5-10% this year, reported Dow Jones Business News.

The US domestic soybean shortage is a result of smaller soybean harvest in 2003 due to the effects of dry weather. The shortage was compounded by higher demand for US soybeans in China, which mainly uses the crop as livestock feed. China has acquired a record 300 million bushels of US soybeans since September, representing 13% of all soybeans produced in the US last year.