The Rising Cost of Food
By Michele Hatton
The spiraling cost of food has left farmers, distributers and consumers scrambling. The culprits? Well, take a look at a supplier and a distributer, both of whom do business with New Leaf Market.
UNFI (United Natural Food Incorporated) just notified our store of an upcoming price hike explaining in a letter, “The price of fuel has continued to rise dramatically and is currently 30% higher than [it was] this time last year.” Add to this the jump in price for purchasing new trucks, new rules limiting driver hours, and more stringent safety regulations. Change can be good, but often costly.
Equal Exchange, the company from which New Leaf Market buys Fair Trade coffee and chocolate bars suspects climate change. Todd Casperson, Director of Purchasing, travels to coffee farms in remote corners of the world. “I hear the same story again and again—farmers believe their weather patterns are changing,” he says. Coffee plants rely on periods of rain followed by sunny, dry spells in order to flower, produce cherries and ripen, but warmer, wetter years are unleashing unprecedented problems. A writer from The New York Times writes about Columbia’s predicament. “At the new, higher temperatures, the plants’ buds abort or their fruit ripens too quickly for optimum quality. Heat also brings pests like coffee rust, a devastating fungus that could not survive the previously cool mountain weather.”
Casperson says farmers pause now to ask, “Should I invest $20,000 in a coffee farm if I don’t believe it is going to rain on time? Or if I believe it is going to get hotter here, should I go further up the mountain?”
Every time we flinch because the price of our favorite item has gone up, yet again, keep in mind the multiple factors at play. And remember, we’re all in the same boat.