For the first time in 15 years, the entire state of California is suffering a water shortage. Across the state, conditions range from “abnormally dry” to “exceptional drought”, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Such earth-cracking conditions aren’t only affecting those who live and work in the Golden State, however, they will ultimately affect any of us who depend on California’s vibrant agricultural industry.
Timothy Richards, professor of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, indicates some fruit and vegetable prices could face steep price increases as the drought has limited harvests. Estimates indicates anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million acres of otherwise-producing land will be affected by the conditions and between 10 and 20% of certain crops could be lost. As California is the largest producer of some of these crops, the effects will be felt at grocers across the country.
As the only major domestic supplier of avocados, the California drought will certainly drive prices up on these creamy, “good fat”-loaded fruits.
“We can expect to see the biggest percentage jumps in prices for avocados and lettuce—28 percent and 34 percent, respectively,” said Richards. “People are the least price-sensitive when it comes to those items, and they’re more willing to pay what it takes to get them.”
8 Foods that Will Cost more Due to CA’s Drought
According to EcoWatch, Richards estimates price increases as follows for the following foods:
- 1. Avocados may rise to $1.60 each, up 17-35 cents apiece.
- 2. Berries could rise to $3.46 per container, an increase of 21 to 43 cents.
- 3. Broccoli is expected to go up 20 to 40 cents to $2.18 per pound.
- 4. Grapes may rise up to 50 cents per pound to $2.93.
- 5. Lettuce may reach $2.44 per head, a rise of 31 to 62 cents.
- 6. Packaged salad mixes could go up to more than $3 per bag, an increase of 17 to 34 cents.
- 7. Peppers may go up 18 to 35 cents or up to $2.48 per pound.
- 8. Tomatoes could increase 22 to 45 cents to $2.84 per pound.
If you’re the type to look at produce stickers and choose those products as close to home as possible, the drought could affect you in another way, as grocery suppliers will likely start sourcing more imports.
“Because prices are going to go up so much, retailers will start looking elsewhere for produce,” he said. “This means we’ll see a lot more imports from places like Chile and Mexico, which may be an issue for certain grocery customers who want domestic fruit and vegetables.”
The outlook isn’t positive. So far, the 2014 “water year”, which began in October, is the driest on record in 90 years and water restrictions like not being able to put a sprinkler on the lawn is the least of the serious concerns.