Drought Drains Consumer's Change

1 decade 2 years 9 months ago Saturday, August 12 2006 Aug 12, 2006 Saturday, August 12, 2006 9:34:08 PM CDT August 12, 2006 in News

Just four or five months ago a 10 pound bag of potatoes cost $1.99, now they cost $4.89 at some places, a big hike in prices in a short period of time. Those higher prices can all be attributed to the lack of rain, 11 inches worth over the past year or so.

Sales are going down while rainfall amounts are also dropping across the country. And Janet Johnston of Columbia knows what that's all about.

"We really don't buy in large quantities anymore at all, we try to just buy what we know we're going to use because you can't afford to have any spoilage with the prices there are," she said.

She used to grow tomatoes outside her house, but lately it's been too dry.

Johnston added, "In the summertime I usually don't buy tomatoes in the grocery store, but this summer I am, so of course I notice prices of them, and it is going to cost me more."

Patricia produce manager says a change in shopping patterns in consumers is nothing uncommon. He says more and more customers have been complaining about higher prices.

"We try to make it affordable for all people due to the shipping, the gas, the weather, and it just has an effect on everything," said Jamaro Clark, produce manager.

Scientifically, there's good reason for the slow growth in crops.

Randy Miles, MU professor and agriculture specialist, explained, "People talk about, or you hear about, we're being eight or nine inches short of annual precipitation for this calendar year, but it really goes back to about a year from right now because we've been probably more like fifteen inches below normal for that twelve month period."

And while Miles works on ways to alleviate drought problems, shoppers like Johnston acknowledge that it's important to find ways to save.

"I'm fortunate, I've just adjusted how I shop, I have the money to have those choices a lot of people don't have and I'm sure they're a lot more people at the food banks because they can't afford all these prices," she added.

In addition to the high produce prices, consumers are reminded of how high gas prices have become, which makes this year's drought that much more costly.

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