Coverage of the drought is picking up, and so is the speculation about the impact on consumer prices for fruits and vegetables. In a piece called “Attention Shoppers: Fruit and Vegetable Prices Are Rising,
The Wall Street Journal had advance coverage of a study set to be released Wednesday.
Timothy Richards of Arizona State University compiled the study, according to the Wall Street Journal coverage, looking at the drought’s effect on farmland and consumer purchasing trends to determine the eight fresh fruits and vegetables likely to see the largest price increases this spring and summer.
In a chart showing the potential for drought-related price increases for fresh produce, Richards said lettuce prices could rise as much as 34%, with avocados as much as 28% higher. The study said broccoli could climb 22% and grapes may spike 21%. On the bottom end of the range, Richards finds that packaged salads will rise a maximum of 13%, with sweet corn and berries up “only” 14% on the high end of expectations.
I have a call in to Richards to discuss his findings.
In other drought related coverage, check out the National Climatic Data Center for the March 2014 drought report.
The 36-month data for California shows that the state received an average of less than 47 inches of rains in the past three years, compared with the 20th century average of 67 inches of rain. That is the driest three-year (CORRECTED: first version earlier read three-month) period since 1977, according to the report.
While fruits and veggies are suffering from the drought, sky high beef prices - also caused by drought but combined with high export demand - may cause produce to seem a bargain by comparison. Check out coverage from CNN here.