Nationwide food shortage hitting local shoppers in the wallet - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Nationwide food shortage hitting local shoppers in the wallet

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A nationwide food shortage is threatening your dinner table and your bank account, and it's about to get worse, as it gets harder for local restaurants and stores to feed their customers' needs.

"That can't be $3.49," said Arthur Edison, as he looked at a tomato in the produce section at the ValuMarket in Mid-City mall. "I buy those for .99 cents a pound usually."

The sticker shock comes as local grocery stores raise prices on fruits and vegetables and find some produce impossible to stock. 

"The freeze in Mexico is hurting the vegetable crop more than anything," said Dave Renn, ValueMarket produce manager.

Renn, a 40 year veteran of the grocery business said 2016 is starting off rough. Pictures from Mexico show why he can't get green onions: a sandstorm flattened the crop, followed by a freeze. 

"Sure, it's frustrating when you can't take care of your customers the way you'd like to," Renn said.

And it's not just the local grocer. Empty spaces prove troublesome for wholesalers like Creation Gardens. The company supplies fruits and vegetables to 3,000 restaurants from Kentucky to Indiana and Ohio to Tennessee. 

"Major shortages from every region that we try to buy from," said Steven Turnier, a purchaser from Creation Gardens. 

In Yuma, Arizona, Monday, there was no harvest -- just ice on the vine. 

"Broccoli, cauliflower, celery -- it's just not growing," said Turnier. "It's so cold out there."

"Florida...got major, major rains," he added. "And it wiped out tomato crops, cucumber, zucchini, squash...as a result, almost A to Z, there is nothing out there that is particularly good quality."

With an El-Nino weather pattern bringing unusual extremes to the forecast, we're told high prices and low product could last much of the winter season.  Thus the everyday customer like Arthur Edison must become a savvy shopper to save -- because this growing problem has no end in sight.

"Most guys look for the sports section," Edison said. "Sunday paper, I grab the sale section."

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