California Drought Means Record Produce Prices: Chart of the Day

Eating a healthy dose of fruits and veggies will start putting a bigger dent in your wallet as severe drought conditions across California push up prices.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows that an index tracking consumer costs of seven fruits and vegetables grown in California this year will reach the highest since at least 1996, when the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics begins. The forecast is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s outlook for produce prices to increase 4 percent this year.

“The drought will have a long and lasting impact,” Annemarie Kuhns, an agricultural economist at the USDA, said in a telephone interview. “We have seen higher prices in farm-level prices, which is an indicator that increases are here to stay.”

California, the largest U.S. agricultural producer with output of crops, dairy and meat valued at $44.7 billion in 2012, has been parched by dry weather for much of the past year. The entire state was rated in severe to exceptional drought as of June 17, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The index of produce prices tracks broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, lemons, navel oranges and grapes, and California is a leading U.S. producer of all the crops.

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