Volatile weather to blame for rising produce prices

Fruit and vegetables are getting pricier at the grocery store and this winter's unusual weather patterns are partly to blame.

Sylvain Charlebois from the University of Guelph says that growers in the U.S. have faced challenges.  Production has stalled somewhat due to an unusually cold December and with snow in places that don't normally get it, like in the country's heavily agricultural southeast. Since this time of year Canadian grocers rely heavily on imports from south of the border, that's driven up prices.

More than that, though, he says that many of the difficulties growers are encountering are characteristic of any La Niña year. "[There is] less moisture in the air, many regions across North America will be affected by less rain, and vegetable growers are affected by that," he explained.

"We could see prices go up before our own harvest picks up the pace in May and June", he adds.  Prices are likely to stabilize once Canadian producers get back online at that time.

However, he says that a weaker Canadian Dollar would have left consumers much more exposed to price fluctuations than they are now.  "The Canadian Dollar is resilient, it is still at a very high level compared to last year," Charlebois says.

He says that's good news for people shopping at grocery stores, whether their tomatoes are coming from the States or beyond.  "Everything is bought with the almighty American Dollar, so if say, tomatoes out in California are too expensive, you can always go out to [Latin America] but you're still paying in the American Dollar," he says.