California Drought Driving Up Food Prices

California's severe drought is causing a drastic increase in food prices

A head of lettuce could go up as much as 62 cents, an avocado may increase by 35 cents and a pound of tomatoes appears to be headed for a 45-cent hike, according to a study that examined the effects of California's drought on food prices.

"It seems like they fluctuate a lot," shopper Benisa Berry said of food prices. "It seems like it's on sale one week and then you go the next day and it's like twice as much."

Carol Benevidez, of Windmill Farms in San Ramon, said the freeze in January combined with the unpredictable weather and drought are driving up prices.

"Customers are definitely going to see the cost increase and it's going to be across the board for everyone, from owners to customers unfortunately," Benevidez said.

A lime that used to sell for 33 cents is now 79 cents, and come summer Benevidez said more produce will be impacted by the state's lack of water including squash, lettuce and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines.

"We have gotten word from farmers that they either have to cut back on crops or just not plant at all," Benevidez said.

Grocers in response will have to import the produce, which comes at a cost.

"So we're paying over a $150 per box of limes and we're mainly only able to get those out of Mexico right now because we have nothing really here in California," Benevidez said.

Shoppers said they are now limiting their grocery lists to items they really need.

"You got to eat you know? So I just cut out some unnecessary things," shopper Susan Ni said. "Like what? Luxury things like cake, party things, drinks, all those things."

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