Brace for Higher Food Prices

A combination of bad harvests and increased demand for corn have sent food prices climbing. It's only a matter of time

By Conan Nolan and Julie Brayton
|  Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011  |  Updated 2:37 PM PDT
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A spike in food prices world wide will eventually make it's way into a <a title=Southern California shopping cart, making it harder for some to make ends meet." />

KNBC-TV

A spike in food prices world wide will eventually make it's way into a Southern California shopping cart, making it harder for some to make ends meet.

For people like 62-year-old Nancy Fischer, who is unemployed and raising a 7-year-old granddaughter at home, placing food on the table has always been a challenge.

Now it's a worry.

"Some of the prices I stopped looking at because they are so high," said Fischer.

She's not alone. All over Southern California grocery shopping habits are changing.

"You shop a little bit here, a little bit at Costco, then you come to the little market. You're used to paying a little bit more here," said Jay Conklin, a grocery shopper.

"More bulk shopping. More buying stuff on sale. For instance, the cheese is $1.99 for eight ounces," said shopper Sheri Gottlieb.

Food prices are indeed going up, according to The US Department of Agriculture, and we have yet to feel the full impact.

Staples such as eggs, meat and dairy have gone up from 3 1/2% to 5 1/2% over the past year.

Much of the problem is the price of corn, according to Brad Freid, who runs Canyon Wholesale Provisions, which has doubled over the past year. The price went up from $3.5 to $7 a bushel.

"The dollar has been weak, so it makes our exports, which are mostly agricultural, attractive to other buyers around the world," according to Brad Freid, of Canyon Wholesale Provisions.

Add in the fact that close to a quarter of the corn harvest is now being used for ethanol, which has reduced the supply for food.

So the most fundamental of all needs, is now becoming more scarce and more expensive.

Adding to the concern of governments and households, around the world, and here at home.

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