- The price of vegetables from producers shot up 38% on a monthly basis in November — and jumped over 80% compared to November 2021 — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest Producer Price Index.
- The price of water has increased for farmers, as rising temperatures and droughts in the Western region of the U.S. have hampered their ability to grow crops.
- While food inflation has slowed during the last two months, there continues to be a tightened supply of vegetables because of compounding weather issues, so price instability could persist.
Without the necessary infrastructure to replenish the water supply, agriculture will continue to see serious losses in the coming years. Customers will keep paying more for produce as temperatures rise and water becomes more scarce.
California’s dry Central Valley region accounted for most of the water loss, Bloomberg reported. Politicians have worked to reverse the trends. California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed an $8 billion plan that aims to increase the state’s water supply in August. The governor said current trends could see California lose up to 10% of its water supply by 2040.
The drought has heavily impacted lettuce. The price of lettuce at grocery stores increased by 8.9% between October and November, according to the latest Consumer Price Index. The salad staple is also 19.8% more expensive than it was in November 2021. Arizona produces over 90% of the nation’s winter lettuce. Farmers in this region rely on water from the Colorado River, which saw less rain and snow in the area this year, Vox reported.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that most food companies do not have a sufficient water management program, according to recent research from Morningstar.
Climate change is forcing farmers to reconsider how they are developing their crops, and find less water-reliant ways to keep growth steady amid drought. Almond farmers in California told Food Dive last year that they have developed methods of growing their crops in extreme heat with less water.