Prices to rise on some fruits, vegetables as supplies stall

Foster’s Food Fair IGA is warning customers that produce may be in short supply – and pricier than usual – as weather patterns disrupt the growing season in many regions.

In a press release issued Monday, the company said its U.S. supplier has warned that there will be a shortage of certain fruits and vegetables, causing their costs to increase, because of unusual weather patterns caused by El Nino, which is defined as a warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.

Rain and cold weather in the strawberry-growing areas of Florida have significantly hampered this year’s yield. The three major strawberry shippers – Driscoll’s, Naturipe and Welpict – are canceling or heavily pro-rating their contracts, and suppliers are expected to be affected through at least the next two weeks.

Weather conditions in Florida have also affected the supply of red and green bell peppers. Exacerbating that situation is the fact that the Mexican crop of the peppers is almost nonexistent due to a freeze that affected their main growing regions last month.

The same freeze has affected the supply of green onions and watermelons.

According to a Foster’s press release, “green onion supplies are all but nonexistent.” Small supplies of the vegetable grown in Yuma, Arizona, have also been heavily affected by rain and cold temperatures. Suppliers are estimated to be at 10 percent of the normal green onion supplies for this time of year.

Watermelon-lovers may be unable to find the fruit for a while, as supplies have “dried up and the fruit is scarce,” according to Foster’s.

Round tomatoes, grown in Mexico and Florida, are also in short supply, and consumers should expect the cost of the fruit to be high. Roma tomatoes, however, are in better supply and will be cheaper than good quality round tomatoes.

Unusually hot weather in Peru has severely affected the asparagus crop. This time of year, 90 percent of asparagus comes from this region, but now, in some cases, farms are halting production altogether.

Asparagus supplies will not be ready for at least another two to three weeks, so supplies of the vegetable will be short, and sizing will be varied.

Foster’s said its U.S. supplier expects many of these markets to get lower in the next few weeks, and apologized for the inconvenience this may cause.