Roughly one month ahead of the 2011 Purchasing Seminar, registration numbers for what has become a cornerstone annual event for grain-based foods have been running solidly ahead of last year’s extraordinary attendance.

With ingredient prices at painfully high levels, the hard winter crop in terrible condition in many parts of the Southwest and with serious delays in corn plantings, the high level of interest in the seminar is hardly surprising. What may have been unexpected, though, is the amazing drop last week in ingredient prices that at least initially came in response to a seemingly unrelated event.

As analysts scratch their heads trying to understand how the world changes with the death of Osama bin Laden, it’s fair to say that lower wheat prices were not first, or even last, out of any pundit’s mouth. Yet, sure enough, the successful raid resulting in the demise of bin Ladin energized a rally in the value of the U.S. dollar that, exacerbated by global economic concerns, was credited with precipitating the plunge in wheat and other commodity prices.

These developments and their amazing impact on commodity prices underscore just how prone markets are to sudden and unexpected swings triggered by unpredictable events. In such a volatile environment, sound and carefully considered purchasing strategies are more important than ever.