In many parts of the world, from California to Southeast Asia, the land is parched from growing and persistent droughts. And that means higher prices for many foods Americans like to put on their kitchen tables.
That morning cup of coffee, for example, could cost a bit more as the beans rise to their highest prices in years due to a Brazilian drought that is the worst in decades.
Water is being rationed to nearly 6 million people living in a total of 142 cities across 11 states in Brazil, the world’s leading exporter of soybeans, coffee, orange juice, sugar and beef. Water supply companies have warned that the country’s reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they have been in 20 years. Any further temperature rises could raise energy prices and damage crops even more.
Some neighborhoods in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state (which accounts for one-quarter of Brazil’s population and one-third of its GDP), only receive water once every three days, for a total of 13 hours.
A salad at lunch full of fresh fruit and vegetables topped with slivered almonds may run a few more dollars each month as California’s drought begins to boost prices for produce and nuts. 2013 was its worst year ever for drought like conditions and 91.6% of the state experienced severe to exceptional drought. It has not been much better for 2014 thus far.
Most people don’t realize how much of our fruit and vegetables come from California.
Here are some statistics regarding what percentage of U.S. produce is grown in the state. You can expect prices increases on all of these items in the near future::
99 % of the artichokes
44 % of asparagus
67 %of carrots
50% bell peppers
89 % of cauliflower
94 % of broccoli
95 % of celery
90 % of leaf lettuce
83 % of Romaine lettuce
83 % of fresh spinach
33% of fresh tomatoes
86 % of lemons
90 % of avocados
84 % of peaches
88 % of fresh strawberries
97 % of fresh plums
According to CNBC, it is being projected that California farmers are going to let half a million acres of farmland sit idle this year because of the crippling drought. Much of the western U.S. has been exceedingly dry for an extended period of time, and this is hurting huge numbers of farmers and ranchers all the way from the West Coast To Texas.
In fact drought conditions are now affecting two thirds of the state of Texas and 25 percent of the state is suffering under “extreme” or “worse” drought conditions and two-thirds of Texas suffers from “moderate” or “worse” drought conditions.
Just four months ago, 46 percent of the state was dry enough to qualify as undergoing at least a “moderate” drought. The percent has risen to 67 percent today.
Both California and Texas are large suppliers of beef.
The classic American dinner of a cheeseburger, French fries and a milkshake is already more expensive due to rapidly rising beef and dairy prices underpinned by the drought.
Without lots of grazing land for their cattle many farmers have been cutting back and as a result inventory of cattle is now at historic lows. The number of cattle that we have in the United States right now is the same that it was in 1950 – but with one key difference – we had less than half the number of mouths to feed.
What all of this means is that the supply of meat is going to be tight for the foreseeable future even as demand for meat continues to go up. This is going to result in much higher prices, and so food is going to put a much larger dent in American family budgets in the months and years to come.