Out of Stock Grocery Store

9 Food Items That Will Skyrocket in Price in 2024 (That You’ll Want)

September 17, 2023

Weather, conflicts, trade imbalances, perceived and absolute scarcity, and global consumer demand drive food shortages. Pointing to a single cause for future food scarcity isn’t always easy. Still, sometimes you can point to one thing, like a fungus, war, heatwave, insect, or weather event, that can overnight impact availability. Just last year, excessive rain in a multi-decade drought-stricken California and the Necrotic Spot Virus wiped out 80% of the nation’s lettuce. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is challenging wheat and sunflower seed oil supplies. Here are the nine foods we have identified as most susceptible to scarcity, shortages, or supply challenges for the rest of this year and next. We’ll give you a detailed breakdown for each explaining why it’s facing pressures driving the cost up. You may have heard some of them in the news, but there are a few we’ll cover that might surprise you.

Wheat, Flour, & Cereal Grains

The global wheat shortage is becoming increasingly problematic, with multiple factors converging to raise concerns about the supply and pricing of wheat-based products. Extreme drought conditions in the Central and Southern Plains of the United States have significantly reduced hard red winter wheat production, potentially resulting in supply chain shortages and higher flour prices. This comes as global wheat shortages, driven by conflicts like the war in Ukraine and extreme weather events, are already impacting prices, with the average cost of flour having risen by 28% this year. As a result, consumers can expect increased prices for bread, pasta, and other wheat-based goods, raising concerns about food security and affordability.

In addition to the challenges faced in the United States, Southern Europe is grappling with a potential 60% decline in cereal production due to the Charon heatwave, which has brought extreme temperatures from Africa. This severe weather is not only affecting the quantity of harvests but also their quality. Consequently, the 2023 European cereal harvest is anticipated to be the lowest since 2007, exacerbating concerns about food security, rising prices, and difficulties in the livestock sector due to tighter cereal supplies. Meanwhile, Australia is projected to experience a 33.9% drop in wheat production for 2023-24 due to poor rainfall. Argentina is expected to see a 55.4% increase in wheat output for the same period due to above-average showers. That won’t be enough to compensate for global losses. Still, these contrasting situations highlight global wheat production’s complex challenges and uncertainties and its potential impact on food prices and security.

When one major food staple like this suffers, it can cascade across other widely-produced cereal grains and legumes like soybeans. Manufacturers may turn to soybeans, barley, sorghum, corn, rice, quinoa, and other grains to compensate for the shortages and raised prices. This can increase prices on all these or punctuate shortages across global food supply chains.

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Rice

There’s a global rice shortage brewing, and it’s primarily attributed to weather-related crop failures. Major flooding, droughts, and heatwaves in rice-producing countries have resulted in production levels sinking to a 20-year low. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has increased demand for rice as an alternative to Ukrainian wheat exports, exacerbating the shortage.

Rice prices have surged 9.5% since March 2022, and related rice-based products have experienced corresponding price hikes. Despite some analysts’ optimism about the global rice market returning to surplus next year, concerns persist, given the potential influence of El Niño-induced floods and droughts in the world’s leading rice-producing regions. Moreover, an export ban has impacted select rice varieties in the global market, contributing to the most significant global rice shortage in the past two decades. Fortunately, rice is one of those grains that is still relatively affordable and easy to put in your preps for long-term storage. It’s also not the primary calorie source for most Americans. Setting aside your family’s supply for a year wouldn’t hurt. If you have no rice set aside, set a goal to get 20 to 40 pounds in your inventory to offset any food shortages or price increases next year.

Cooking Oils

Vegetable-derived cooking oils are probably the most threatened food staple in 2024. Palm oil production accounted for 31.4% of global oils and fats production in 2020 but faces a stronger-than-typical El Nino cycle extending the drought in Malaysia. 

The conflict in Ukraine has disrupted the sunflower oil supply, prompting food manufacturers to seek alternatives such as rapeseed or soybean oil. Ukraine, the world’s leading exporter of sunflower oil, produced approximately 29% of global output in 2021. As the war in Ukraine rages on, I could see production of this cooking oil dropping even further than the dismal forecasted estimates.

In Canada, renowned for its lucrative rapeseed, canola-producing crop, the rise in extreme heat, drought, and even wildfires have slashed supply in the face of rising global demand.  Reduced olive oil production in Europe, attributed to poor harvests due to weather extremes, particularly in Spain, Italy, and Portugal, has played a significant role in this trend. Olive oil production in Europe has seen a 40% drop in the 2022/23 crop year compared to the previous year, with wholesale prices doubling since the start of 2022. 

In the US, the prices of fats and oils are expected to rise by 10% this year, with even more significant potential increases in 2024. This price surge stems from the intricate dynamics impacting global vegetable oil supplies. The convergence of factors such as extreme weather, wars, and sustainability dilemmas poses a potential threat to cooking oil supplies in the approaching year, carrying implications for both the food industry and consumers. 

Corn

In some cases, the supply challenges will come from adjustments in the global food supply. I put Corn in the category of “looking good overall,” but it’s a crop I am definitely keeping an eye on for several reasons. Corn harvests worldwide are expected to reach record highs, particularly in countries like the US, Argentina, the EU, China, and Serbia, offsetting smaller crops in Ukraine and Brazil. This surge in production is accompanied by a 4% increase in world corn demand, driven by growing foreign consumption. 

Global corn exports are rising. Despite a rebound in US exports, Brazil is expected to remain the world’s largest corn exporter for the second consecutive year. These trends in corn production, demand, and exports may impact global corn prices and availability, potentially affecting various industries dependent on corn-based products.

Global corn will suffer from the substitution effect, where people look to corn to fill the missing gaps created by wheat and rice shortages. More corn will be allocated to the production of corn oil, as well, to compensate for global vegetable oil supply declines. That will elevate prices. Corn as a feed grain will challenge supplies further. Corn is also highly susceptible to weather, extreme heat, cold, and precipitation levels, which can all significantly impact fungal diseases in the crop. The full impact of this stronger-than-usual El Nino will substantially affect how the corn supply scales tip. We will keep an eye on this one because I don’t think corn futures align with projections.

Oranges

Florida, one of the world’s critical regions for orange production and orange juice, is facing a severe shortage in its orange crop in 2023. A series of weather-related challenges, including Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole in 2022, as well as the ongoing battle against citrus greening disease, have significantly reduced orange yields. Florida’s orange harvest for October 2022 to September 2023 season is projected to be just 20 million boxes, marking a staggering 51% drop from the previous season – the most significant decline since 1913 and the lowest overall harvest since 1937. Hurricane Ian alone caused a 34% reduction in production and inflicted approximately $760 million in damages to orange groves in the state, further exacerbating the situation.

While oranges from other regions like California and Brazil have partially filled the gap, Florida’s issues remain the primary driver of the shortage. The current winter is predicted to bring plunging winter temperatures to the south, the kind we all know causes iguanas to fall from trees. Fruit will be damaged when temperatures drop below 28 degrees for at least four hours. The situation may worsen, further straining the supply and increasing the cost of oranges and orange products in the coming months and into next year.

Bananas

Bananas have been teetering on the edge of collapse for a few years, and conditions haven’t significantly improved. They have continued to worsen. The global banana industry faces a severe shortage as a destructive fungus, reminiscent of the 1950s Panama Disease, threatens banana crops worldwide, particularly in Asia, Latin America, and beyond. This Fusarium fungus, spreading across the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, has already decimated 40% of the banana output by infiltrating plant roots and destroying veins, causing plant withering and decades-long soil contamination. The Panama disease is the reason why the Cavendish banana, the one you are probably eating, even exists, because it previously wiped out the Gros Michel variety.

If we don’t begin to feel the direct impact of this next year, it’s inevitable in the coming years. Experts warn that countries like Vietnam, China, and the Philippines could lose up to 70% of their banana-producing land within 25 years due to this strain of Fusarium, which has already impacted over 20 banana-growing nations. Monoculture farming practices centered on the Cavendish banana amplify the industry’s vulnerability to such diseases, echoing the past devastation of the Gros Michel banana variety.

Salmon

The United States West Coast is grappling with a severe decline in salmon populations, primarily caused by a prolonged drought that has strained water resources and elevated water temperatures. To safeguard the dwindling Chinook salmon populations, which have reached their lowest levels in recent years, regulators are contemplating a ban on salmon fishing in California for the second time in history. This potential closure would have far-reaching consequences, impacting tens of thousands of people who rely on salmon fishing for their livelihoods and recreational activities.

North Atlantic Salmon isn’t fairing much better. Norway is experiencing its own salmon-related challenges. Fresh salmon exports from Norway saw a 9% decline in the first quarter of 2023, contributing to a 6% reduction in global salmon supply. This shortage has led to consistently rising Norwegian salmon prices over the past two years. Declining numbers of returning salmon are a cause for concern despite strict regulations on wild salmon fishing in Norway. 

Peaches

Georgia’s 2023 peach crop faces a dire shortage due to extreme weather. Peach prices are set to double. California and New Jersey offer some relief with successful peach crops. While peaches are harvested in the summer months, the trees require a cold winter and time spent under what is called “chill hours.” Georgia and surrounding peach-producing southern states like South Carolina are in store for plenty of freezing temperatures this winter. Still, we will watch for any period with unseasonably warm temperatures sandwiched between the frigid cold. If this happens, that could bring about a false spring for the plants, and peach harvests could be even worse in 2024 than they were this year.

To address the constrained supply, grocery stores are resorting to sourcing peaches from the West Coast, resulting in fruit of diminished quality due to transportation and heat-related issues. Although other states with substantial peach industries, such as South Carolina, have also witnessed crop losses exceeding 75%, California and New Jersey stand out as states boasting successful peach crops in 2023, offering a semblance of respite for peach enthusiasts.

Tomatoes, Ketchup, Pasta Sauces

Over the past three summers, record-breaking heat in major tomato-producing regions like Australia, Spain, and California has severely diminished tomato paste stocks, a critical component for popular condiments like ketchup. California, the source of a quarter of the world’s tomatoes and 95% of those used in U.S. canned goods, saw tomato yields fall below expectations by nearly 5% in 2021 and 10% in 2022 due to persistent drought conditions. 

In 2023, heavy rains earlier this year eased the drought, resulting in flooded fields, postponing planting, and potentially leading to reduced yields. The drought in California has created a recurrent pattern of lower tomato production, sparking concerns about shortages in products such as ketchup and pasta sauce. Additionally, unexpected cold temperatures in the state delayed the tomato planting season until late July, causing limited tomato volumes in July.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has driven up energy prices in Europe, rendering greenhouse tomato cultivation prohibitively expensive for many farmers, further contributing to the reduction in tomato supply and adding to the challenges of the global tomato industry. Fortunately, tomatoes can often be successfully grown at home in gardens or indoors. Tomato powder and dried tomatoes are easy ways to keep supplies in your prepping pantry. Nevertheless, the current outlook all points to price increases in the future.

Food shortages and scarcities will impact people differently according to their diets, economics, and ability to pivot to other food options. What is a devastating loss of a calorie staple to some may be a minor inconvenience to someone elsewhere in the world. Assess your exposure to these nine potential food scarcities in the next year, and take measures now to reduce their potential impact on you. Check this video, How to Build a 1 Year of Food Storage which will give you the information you need to endure the coming food shortages.

 

As always, stay safe out there.

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