Have you noticed your grocery shopping is getting a little more expensive each month? And that there are more empty spots on grocery store shelves? A combination of events are causing increases in food prices and shortages. Why is this happening, and how do you prepare for what is to come?
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What is Causing Rising Food Prices and Shortages?
In the last few months you probably noticed that your favorite items are costing you a little more. Why is this happening? There are a few reasons why this is happening now, let’s go through them.
- Inflation. Basic economics can not be denied, even during a pandemic. Our government has been printing money it can’t back. This causes a weakening of the dollar, which in turn gives you less buying power. You will see this in lots of places, but will probably feel it most at the grocery store, being you have to buy food to live, regardless of price.
- Breaks in our “Just In Time” systems. Because of the amount of goods we buy everyday, grocery stores run on a “just in time system”. This means that to cut cost on storage spaces and losses for expired items, most stores only have about a 3 day supply of items in the store.
So if there is a shipping, or manufacturing issue, it can cause an immediate shortage. There can also be a shortage if there is a sudden, out of the ordinary demand. This was demonstrated in the toilet paper shortages of 2020. The pandemic caused multiple “kinks” in the “just in time system”. Once there is a break in the delicate system, it can take awhile to correct itself.
- Gas Price Increases. When the gas prices go up, it cost more for companies to ship our goods all over the country. They can not afford these increases against their already slim profit margins, so that cost will be shifted to us by requiring us to pay more for those goods.
What will cause increased food prices and shortages to get worse in the future?
Unfortunately, besides everything that is happening now to cause shortages and elevate food prices, there are more problems coming our way. This will take the issues we already talked about, and compound them. This is why food prices that are already high, will probably get much higher, and why there will likely be many more shortages in the future.
Weather Related Issues
Changing weather patterns are going to be a huge cause of food prices rising, and might be the biggest factor in food shortages.
- Drought in the West. This one is big! Drought is a huge problem for agriculture. I live in Utah, where most of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions.
These drought conditions have caused many farmers here in our state to only plant about 10% of the crops they would normally plant. They just will not be allowed the water to irrigate more than that.
Now, imagine that duplicated all over the county. The heat is so extreme, what is being grown is sometimes damaged. There have been reports of berries “baking” on the vine before they can even be harvested.
Another problem the drought is causing is a price increase to the farmers for feed. Ranches are selling off large parts of their herds to cut costs.
- Flooding in the East. While we are experiencing extreme dry heat in the west, some areas of the east are getting way more rain than they are accustomed to. They still might be planting the same amount of crops, but those crops are sometimes being flooded, or are just not producing the yields they normally would.
- Grasshopper Infestation. The crazy weather has brought on a pest known for crop decimation, the dreaded grasshopper. So far Oregon and Montana have been the worst hit, but there are infestations currently invading 17 states, doing damage to what little crops can actually be produced with the small amount of water available.
Non-Weather Related Issues
While weather will probably be the main reason there is such instability in food prices and availability, there are other factors as well.
- Even more inflation. We have spent huge amounts of money because of the pandemic, and should probably be tightening our purse strings. Even so, the government is considering huge increases to the budget.
This will just continue to weaken the dollar and further decrease your buying power. Even with a lot of companies increasing wages, these increases are being wiped out with higher and higher inflation.
- Problems across the globe. Countries all over the globe are having issues with weather, civil unrest, shortages on shipping containers, international tensions. All of these problems can cause cracks to the systems of trade, and supply and demand.
For example, a storm in the Mediterranean wiped out a lot of the crop used to make olive oil, causing a large increase to the cost per barrel. We will begin to see that cost trickle down to us in the near future.
We know Increases in Food Prices and Shortages are Coming…Now What?
Now that we know that increases in food prices and shortages are coming, what can we do to prepare? There are quite a few things. And you don’t have to be a full blown Prepper with a bunker to do it.
- Start a rotating food storage pantry. When you are buying something you use a lot, buy it in multiples. Again, food prices will continue to rise, so what you pay today is probably going to be cheaper than what you pay tomorrow. Keep building on your supply, putting the latest bought items in the back and rotating though.
- Supplement with less expensive items. Rice, beans, and oats are great staples to put into your meals to make them stretch. Rice packs a punch when it comes to calories. So instead of making just stew, maybe serve a little less of that stew, but over rice. And beans are great for protein, so how about some beans and rice once a week for dinner, inexpensive, but filling.
- Start a garden. If you have a huge yard, or just a balcony, you can grow something. Learn the skill of growing your own food, and you will be able to buy less at the store. And if you buy heirloom seeds, you can have new seeds every year from last years crop.
- Pay attention when you hear about what might be coming up short. Because I knew about that storm in the Mediterranean, I immediately went and bought a new bottle of olive oil before that price increase hit the store shelves. Make sure you are staying aware of what might be coming around the bend.
What else should we consider?
We know the drought will bring a lack of affordable food, but there might be a lack of water at times as well. The human body can only go 3 days without water, it may be time to start some water storage at home. Especially if any of your food storage items take water to make (like rice, or dehydrated food).
The drought can also cause problems with hydroelectric power as reservoirs dry up. This is happening while the demand for electricity to run air conditioners is getting higher.
Because of this, rolling blackouts are likely to increase over the next few years. The length of these blackouts is also likely to increase, this will be another reason you to need water storage. If electricity stops for a longer amount of time, water pumps eventually follow.
This is something that happened in Texas during the storm last year. So don’t just think about water for drinking and cooking, but enough if you needed it for cleaning for a few hours or days as well.
It might also be a good time to up your supply of medicines, cleaning products, and toiletries. Grocery stores have been stocking up on these items lately, which means they are expecting price increases on these items as well. If the grocery store sees a need to stock up, that is a sign you probably should too.
If this seems overwhelming, use the prepping rule of 3. Start with a three days supply, then move to three weeks, then to three months. As long as you stay consistent, your supply will grow.
If you need some extra help or motivation
I like to use YouTube as a resource of information. There are some amazing content creators out there. When it comes to prepping or making food more affordable, these are my favorites.
Frugal Fit Mom This creator is amazing at making meals affordable! Like she is a magician, seriously, check out her videos if you want to save money on groceries!
Canadian Prepper This creator has such an impressive collection of videos on prepping. They are informative, and entertaining. He has one of the most well organized food storage plans I have seen.
City Prepping Another prepping channel with great content. I think his videos are so well researched, and he has a lot of them.
I will also include links below for other post we have done about prepping. Combined they have a ton of information, and links to products to help get you started.