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This Problem Could Raise Food Prices Even More, Experts Say

And it may not go away anytime soon . . .

Though shopping for groceries at the supermarket slowly feels normal again, your total at the checkout counter likely doesn't feel that way. After a year of skyrocketing grocery prices in the backdrop of a global pandemic, we're not fully in the clear yet. In fact, grocery prices are sky-high right now.

Nevertheless, grocery sales for the week ending June 19 were reportedly up by 15% compared to 2019. Droughtshigh grain prices, and shipping delays certainly aren't helping matters. But could another problem raise food prices even more? Let's take a look. (Related: This Is the Best Supermarket in America, New Survey Says)

The West is experiencing an "exceptional drought."

West Drought
David Becker/Getty Images

Seven western states—Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah—are currently experiencing an "exceptional drought." In some places, temperatures are up to 17 degrees above average, and the heat is not only drying out the soil and plants but also putting a strain on water resources, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. In Oregon, certain conditions are "among the driest going back to 1895."

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The severe weather is affecting farmers in several ways.

the grass-fed cows of naked nutrition on a clear summer day
Courtesy of Naked Nutrition

The drought is impacting farmers, livestock, and vegetation. Per the New York Times:

"In New Mexico, farmers along the Rio Grande were urged not to plant this year. Crop failures have been reported in Colorado and other farming areas. The level of Lake Mead, the huge reservoir on the Colorado River, is so low that Arizona, Nevada, and other states will likely face cutbacks in supplies. In North Dakota, ranchers are trucking water and supplemental feed for their livestock because the rangelands are so dry and the vegetation is stunted."

What does this mean for grocery prices?

cookie aisle grocery store
Shutterstock

In a move to combat rising prices, grocery stores are stockpiling inventory. Walmart, meanwhile, has pledged to keep costs low this summer in order to woo customers who are eager to get out of their homes more than a year after the start of the pandemic. However, the Wall Street Journal previously reported that executives anticipate "the highest price increases in recent memory."

What grocery staples are likely to be impacted?

Woman looking at a receipt with full grocery cart at the grocery store
Shutterstock

"While high inflation for some goods and services might prove to be transitory, the run-up in prices for food staples such as beef, pork, and milk might be extended by the effects of severe drought," The Journal's Danny Dougherty and Peter Santilli wrote earlier this month.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That!. Read more