Lower Temperatures Out West Mean Higher Produce Prices In Oklahoma

Wednesday, January 30th 2013, 10:25 pm
By: News On 6

Winter weather will cost you at the grocery store. A chill that's gripped California, Arizona and Mexico has crippled vegetable crops, meaning you could be paying as much as 40 percent more on some things.

A bad freeze can affect the vegetable selection at stores for as much as 45 days after the freeze.

Reasor's is in a pickle with its produce.

"Yeah, I'm starting to notice things not being there," said Tulsa shopper Chris Myers-Baker.

The grocery chain, like most others across the nation, is battling limited supply and rising prices on certain items. Reasor's has posted signs for customers, explaining that cold temperatures out west are to blame.

"I didn't know it was that bad, at all. I knew the cold weather was coming, but I didn't know it would affect all the produce as bad as it is right now," said shopper Brady Johnson.

The freeze damage in the fields of California, Arizona and northern Mexico is substantial. Iceberg, romaine and leaf lettuce have been hit the hardest. Bagged lettuce and spinach is also a little more expensive.

It's the same story with tomatoes, especially vine-ripened, and red, white and yellow onions, which have shot up 25 percent.

Some items, like squash, broccoli, cauliflower, green onions and celery, have gone up by as much as 40 percent.

Myers-Baker noticed a price difference when she grabbed the celery.

"I just got less, because then it won't go to waste," she said. "You can't afford to let it go to waste, when you are spending that much money in the first place."

Johnson said he carefully plans his meals, but said this trip is going to be more expensive than he realized.

"It's unreal. I'm trying to do it cheap, especially the organic part, and I don't even go there anymore," Johnson said.

Asparagus isn't even available in some stores. Mexico hasn't been exporting the vegetable in weeks.

But it's not all bad news. While green peppers are slightly up, grab red or yellow pepper and it should be a good value. Many stores are looking to other countries besides Mexico for asparagus, like Peru.

The Vice President of Produce for Reasor's, Mark Faust, said he's hoping these high prices break by next week.