With global food prices reaching record highs in December, it's getting harder and harder to fill your gullet without emptying your wallet. Last month, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization's Food Price Index, measuring price shifts in dairy, meat, sugar, cereal, and oilseeds hit 214.7 points, up from 206 in November.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, hikes in sugar, cereal, and oil costs bear most of the blame. Wildfires in Russia last year depleted the country's wheat harvest, resulting in an export ban -- and given that the nation accounts for 11% of global exports, the rest of the world is feeling the impact.

And the recent flooding in Australia, also accounting for 11% of the world's wheat exports, hasn't helped. And while environmental issues are largely responsible for the recent increases, the pressure of a fast-growing world population and ever-increasing demand for biofuels is making it more and more difficult for supply to keep up.

The last time food prices were this high, back in 2008, many countries, Cameroon and Haiti among them, responded with violent protests. Fortunately, the primary factors that set off the riots, like weak production in these countries, aren't a threat today, according to FAO economist Abdolreza Abbassian. But there's always the fear that history will repeat itself.

While no one's expecting any angry food mobs stateside, the U.S will also feel the impact of the rising cost of food. Particularly those who think breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Boxed cereals haven't yet passed the costs onto consumers -- but they will. Both General Mills and Kellogg have announced plans to up prices this year.

So we're wondering, how will food companies adjust to rising input costs? And more importantly, how will it affect their bottom line if they pass these costs on to the consumer? It's a difficult question to answer, but for clues, we can look at what options traders think.

Call options traders look for stocks expected to see upward momentum over the coming weeks, where put options traders do the opposite, and bet on a stock's downside. A stock seeing a high number of puts relative to calls indicates generally bearish sentiment in the options market.

And since options traders tend to be a pretty savvy lot of investors, it's not a bad idea to take their outlook into consideration before you make your next trade.

Here is a list of food stocks that are expected to see some downside over the coming weeks, according to options traders. Do you agree? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)


Call Option Open Interest (No. Contracts)

Put Option Open Interest (No. Contracts)

Put/Call Ratio

Corn Products International (NYSE: CPO)




The J. M. Smucker Company (NYSE: SJM)




Pepsico (NYSE: PEP)




Diamond Foods (Nasdaq: DMND)




Options data sourced from Schaeffer's. The list has been sorted by the put/call ratio.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research. Note: The numbers on top of items represent the forward P/E ratio, if available.

Kapitall's Eben Esterhuizen and Alicia Sellitti do not own shares of any companies mentioned.

Kellogg and PepsiCo are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on PepsiCo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.