Price fluctuations

In general, food prices are known to be relatively volatile, influenced by factors like agriculture and energy policy, commodity market speculation, extreme weather, rising demand, and decline of surplus storage—just add a pandemic to create a perfect storm.

🎧 For more intel on increasing food prices, listen to the Quartz Obsession podcast episode on fish sticks. Or subscribe via: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher.

For instance, the price of flour, is up 10.33%, due to several factors. Last year, a drought across the US Great Plains region reduced the supply of wheat, which is used for all-purpose white flour, coinciding with Americans channeling their energy into baking bread while stuck at home. Meanwhile, coffee prices increased by 8.64%, due to severe weather conditions hitting coffee producers Brazil and Colombia, which reduced the supply of the beans, compounded by supply chain snags, from lack of workers to port congestion. (Hover over or tap any of the lines in the chart below to see the price changes for specific items.)

Another item hit hard by inflation? Citrus fruit, which experienced an increase of 10.61% in January compared to a year ago. Again, the story is about more than just prices. Last month, the US Department of Agriculture forecast that Florida’s orange harvest would produce the smallest crop since 1945, as the state, which is US’s biggest orange producer, was hit hard by a bacterial infection called citrus greening disease. The disease is carried by the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid, and spreads rapidly, resulting in citrus that becomes small, bitter, and never ripens. If Florida’s crops continue to shrink, high citrus fruit prices could be here to stay.

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