Vegetables were among the hardest hit. At least one major tomato grower, Ag-Mart Produce, has already declared that most of its Florida crop is “useless due to the freeze.” Other vegetable farms were expected to lose their entire crop, and wholesale prices have already increased.
“Tomatoes were down around $14 for a 25-pound box; now they are up over $20,” said Gene McAvoy, an agriculture expert with the University Florida, who predicted $100 million in vegetable losses. “Peppers — just after New Year’s they were $8 a box; now they’re up around $18.”
Translation: get ready to pay up to an extra dollar a pound at supermarkets in New York and Chicago.
A number of outlets are predicting that 2010 will be a year of climbing food prices:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects overall food prices to rise as much as 4 percent in the U.S. by the end of 2010. Yet, some economists think they could climb by as much as 5 percent. Even using the government's more conservative numbers, the price for eggs is forecast to rise 3 percent and beef is seen increasing 2 percent. Lamb, seafood and fish? All three categories are expected to jump as much as 5 percent.
A 5 percent boost in your grocery bill may not seem terribly devastating, but consider this: If you spend $300 a week on groceries now, you'll need to squeeze a raise of about a thousand dollars a year out of your boss (don't forget withholding tax) just to keep up with higher chicken, beef, pork and dairy prices....
[C]onsumers are still paying about 45 percent more for food now than they were just two years ago. Bill Lapp, former chief economist at food giant ConAgra (CAG) and now president of Advanced Economic Solutions, a consulting firm in Omaha, Neb. that specializes in analysis of food costs, says at the peak of the global food crisis, food prices in the U.S. grew 6 percent. In 2010, he thinks they could jump 5 percent. Yikes.
Establishing a garden can be a great investment with long-term paybacks. We're planning to set up times in the next month or so to meet with Rodgers Forge neighbors to talk about vegetable gardening and what we can do to help get your gardens going. (Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in meeting.) It's a good year to start planting.