A report released Friday by B.C.-based financial organization Vancity warns of a coming wave of food price inflation on the West Coast. B.C. food prices will rise over the year to come as the effects of the California drought begin to work through the North American economic system.
For three years now California has suffered what is becoming a serious drought. The majority of the state is suffering “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions. The last 30 months have been the driest on record. Hydropower systems in the state are running dry. Some towns are out of drinking water. Now the effects begin to extend through the financial and food networks on the West Coast.
British Columbia will be hit hard. The report notes the coming price increases will be sharper than would otherwise be the case as B.C. has become ever more reliant on California produce over the last two decades.
The most interesting part of the report is the data showing how dependent on California product the province is now. According to the report, since 1991, local crop production in B.C. has fallen by 20.4 per cent. In 2010, “67% of BC vegetable imports came from the U.S., over half of which was produced in California.” Today 95% of all broccoli and 74% of all lettuce in B.C. now comes from California. This dependency will drive the coming price increases.
The report suggests that the price of “fruits and vegetables in B.C. could increase up to 34 per cent this year.” Prices have already increased 9.6% between just July 2013 and 2014. If current trends continue “prices for many fruit and vegetables are predicted to increase by 25%-50% by 2019, adding an extra $30-$60 to the average B.C. household’s monthly grocery bill.” Consumers could be paying up to “$7 for a pound of broccoli” within the next five years.
Apparently, it’s a good time to get into farming in B.C.