Monterey County

California drought expected to spike produce prices

New study says consumers will pay more for produce come summertime

SALINAS, Calif. - It's another impact of the drought, this time where you shop. Produce prices are expected to spike in the next few months.

For produce lovers like Laurie Rawson that's not a surprise.

"Prices always increase. Every time there is something like a disaster or problem, you're always expected to see that," said Rawson.

Stil, Gabriella Schliesinger, who loves her green apples, doesn't want to see it.

"I cant afford that, I'll eat boxed dinners, I guess," said Schliesinger

Studies by the University of Arizona and Neilsen estimate an increase in prices in the produce department is pretty much inevitable.

Packaged salads will go up 13 percent. Corn and berries, 14 percent. Broccoli by 22 percent and avocados 28 percent. The biggest price increase, lettuce, will go up by 34 percent higher. In other words, right now a head of lettuce sells at $1.49. That spike means it'll go to $2 a head.

The question, are growers on the Central Coast hiking prices?

"That varies throughout the state," said Abby Taylor-Silva, Vice President of the Grower-Shipper Association.

Taylor-Silva said growers on the Salinas Valley haven't made any decisions on increasing prices yet.

"Much of our irrigation water comes from the ground and so any drought year that is a concern over the long term," said Taylor-Silva

She said most of the impact will be for the Central Valley, but said all growers know the risks.

"You can imagine that with more stresses and inputs on how easy it is to obtain what you need to grow a crop, that does change the price," said Taylor-Silva.
So for consumers, plan to cough up more green for veggies or be like Schlisinger.

"Hope it rains. A lot," she said.

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