California’s raging drought could set produce prices ablaze, further exacerbating food inflation. California’s current crisis comes at a time when US consumers are already paying steep prices for consumer goods, particularly food, as seen via the Gro US Food Price Index.
California is the largest US agricultural producing state. The state is the biggest grower of US fresh produce, most of which comes from Fresno, Yolo, Kings, Kern, and Monterey counties.
76% of California’s counties are experiencing “severe” or worse drought conditions, with 1 in 5 of those counties suffering “exceptional” drought, the most intense level.
California as a whole also is suffering the worst drought since 2014, which was the driest year on record for CA since record-keeping began in 1885. California overall currently has a Gro Drought Index reading of 3.72, indicating “severe” drought across the state on average. That compares with just 1.3, or “abnormally dry” conditions, a year ago and a 10-year average of 1.6.
Some of the California areas hit hardest by drought are also among the top fruit, vegetable and nut producing regions. Yolo and Kern counties are seeing their worst drought since 2014, according to Gro’s Drought Index (GDI). Tree crops are particularly vulnerable to drought. Citrus, avocado, and almond trees are expected to be heavily impacted by dry conditions.
Gro’s US Fresh Produce Cash Price Browser monitors daily price movements of dozens of fresh produce products in locations across the United States, and is an excellent tool to track how prices have moved for a product over the past week, month, or year to date. The app also includes a heatmap for visualizing how prices have changed over time, helping to deduce if price changes are based on seasonality or other external factors.
This insight was powered by the Gro platform, which enables better and faster decisions about factors affecting the entire global agricultural ecosystem. Gro organizes over 40,000 datasets from sources around the world into a unified ontology, which allows users to derive valuable insights such as this one. You can explore the data available on Gro with a free account, or please get in touch if you would like to learn more about a specific crop, region, or business issue.