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Harsh weather conditions contributing to higher food costs

Posted March 20, 2014

Extreme drought conditions in several states are going to push up the cost of many of your favorite products at the grocery store.

“When consumers walk in the grocery store, they are going to have to continue to juggle what they put in those baskets,” said Glynn Tonsor, associate professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University.

Several items will cost more this year, including beef, pork, vegetables and nuts. Most of the increase in price is because of extreme drought facing several states.

“Most people recognize weather has a big hand in food production,” Tonsor said. “What they might not recognize is the actual location of food production around the country and therefore how weather across the country impacts the food prices they see.”

California, described as the salad bowl of the United States, produces more than 90 percent of select vegetables and nut products. However, the state is facing extreme drought conditions. That means fewer of these products are available. Tonsor says the limited supply will increase the price of the products anywhere from 5 to 20 percent.

Drought also is taking a toll on beef. The drought in Oklahoma, coupled with the already historically low amount of cattle in the United States, will hike up the price for beef.

“It’s not just a weather story,” Tonsor said. “The other thing that’s getting talked a lot about that will show up at the meat counter is animal health issues, particularly in the pork industry.

These animal health issues do not affect human health, but they do decrease the amount of pork available. That could affect the prices at the grocery store by summer, Tonsor said.

Also, the high cost of beef has increased demand for pork, and with higher demand comes increased costs for consumers.

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