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California drought could impact Arizona’s produce

TEMPE, Ariz. — California is experiencing one of its worst droughts, and the Valley could see some of the effects in local grocery stores.

As of now, avocado, broccoli, grape and lettuce prices are expected to significantly increase if the drought gets worse. This comes from a new study conducted by Professor Timothy Richards of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He studied which crops would be most affected by the drought and what the price increases would be.

For avocados, a price for one could jump up to $1.60; grapes could get close to $3 per pound; and lettuce could be just shy of $2.50 a head. Richard said these prices will directly hit the Valley, because most of these crops come primarily from California.

“We’re looking at national price impacts and we’re talking short-term, two to three months out, until retailers can find alternative sources of supply,” he said.

Despite the drought’s negative impact on Arizona, Richard offered alternatives to avoid these price hits.

“Substitute out and purchase a non-California commodity,” he explained. “For example, in fruits, instead of buying grapes, buy apples. They come from Washington.”

Richard also mentioned that if these prices hit Arizona, retailers would look elsewhere for produce, such as Chile and Mexico. Unfortunately, he added, customer demands for domestic fruit and vegetables would be a new issue to worry about.