NEW YORK - Wheat prices surged above $10 a bushel for the first time ever yesterday amid concerns that strong demand globally could result in a grain shortage in the United States next year - worsening food price inflation.

Wheat supplies in the U.S. have dwindled this year as one wheat crop after another around the world has been damaged by poor weather. U.S. wheat exporters already have sold more than 90 percent of the 1.175 billion bushels the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects will be exported during the whole marketing year, which ends in June 2008.

Wheat prices crossing the $10 a bushel threshold won't immediately translate into a spike in retail prices for bread, cereal, cookies and other products, experts say. Companies like Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc., ConAgra Foods Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. typically protect themselves from price volatility with long-term supply contracts. *

-Associated Press