Costs Spike for Five Popular Foods Amidst Hostile Weather

By Samantha-Rae Tuthill, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
April 3, 2014; 2:56 AM ET
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In an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the group stated that changes to the climate will negatively impact food availability and production. They claim that issues also surround the quality of food, with human settlements growing near waters that are prone to flooding or sea-level rise that could cause contamination.

Other organizations are also claiming climate-related concerns for the future of their products, from their ability to continue serving items at a reasonable cost to being able to grow and maintain the products at all.

Meanwhile, the weather provides a crucial element to how food can be grown or distributed. The right balance of sunlight, precipitation and temperature must come together to ensure healthy crops are available.

Recent droughts and temperature spikes, along with growing demand, are injuring certain foods around the world. Others are falling victim to fungi and other assailants that thrive in increased rain. Crops are dying off due to deep freezing during the growing period. Looking ahead to the spring, while much of the U.S. will be in good shape for planting, others will not fare as well.

Here are five popular foods that are suffering as a result of the weather and climate.

Avocado

(MSPhotographic/iStock/Thinkstock)

The ongoing drought in California is having an impact on avocado supplies. According to a San Diego avocado farmer, the summer of 2013 saw fruits 30 percent smaller than usual as a result of last year's dry conditions, which have only gotten worse into the spring of 2014. As the nation's number one supplier of avocados, a decrease in product in California could lead to diminished supplies and therefore, increased prices, of the popular, heart-healthy fruit.

The Chipotle restaurant chain recently made headlines by claiming that the future of their guacamole or salsas could be at stake as a result of climate change. They also cited "the impact of inclement weather, natural disasters and other calamities," specifying that freezes are hard on crops and that drought is hard on livestock.

Lime

(HandmadePictures/iStock/Thinkstock)

Decreased production of limes are also posing a threat to guacamole. Lime growth is not hurting from drought, but rather from an excess of rain in Mexico. The precipitation has led to root rot on lime trees.

According to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Eric Leister, "Much of the lime-growing regions in Mexico saw excessive rainfall in September and October due rain associated with Hurricane Manuel in September and then Hurricane Raymond in October."

A crop disease known as Huanglongbing, which took a toll on California citrus earlier this year as well, has been impacting limes south of the border. The result has been a doubled price increase on the fruit.

To cope, some restaurants are trying to limit the use of limes in their products or are trading limes for significantly discounted drinks.

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Honey

(pilipphoto/iStock/Thinkstock)

Disease and fungus may also be to blame for the threat against honey supplies, as apiculturists struggle to diagnose the rapid bee die-off. Some seasons have linked the low numbers to harsh weather, while the possibilities of parasites, pesticides and other environmental factors are also being investigated as possible causes for Colony Collapse Disorder.

Not only could dwindling bee populations, down from 5 million in the 1940s to 2.5 million today, result in a decrease in honey production, but many other crops depend on bee populations to keep them pollinated. Without bees, some locations, such as in southwest China, are forced to resort to hand pollination, which does not cover nearly the same amount of product as the bees are able to carry.

Bananas

(AbElena/iStock/Thinkstock)

Warm weather is bolstering insects and fungi that thrive on banana plants as well.

This past winter Costa Rica declared a banana emergency and cited rising temperatures and rain as the culprits, allowing for the surplus populations of damaging insects. As a major export for the country, this hit to their crops could have large-scale economic impacts.

Bananas have also fallen victim to soil-born fungi across Asia and Africa, which experts fear may spread into Central and South America as well.

Chocolate

(Nikolay Trubnikov/iStock/Thinkstock)

Cocoa production is also suffering, with experts calling for a halved reduction in production by 2060, with a 1.5 million ton shortage expected by 2020. Significant quantities come out of Ghana and West Africa, where warmer weather and drought are impacting growth.

The price of cocoa per ton has gone through a price increase five times what it was in the year 2000.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Lesyy


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Samantha-Rae Tuthill at SamanthaRae.Tuthill@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Sam or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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