Hurricane Irma causing increase in produce prices

Updated: Sep. 15, 2017 at 6:00 PM CDT
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The impact of Hurricane Irma is about to hit us all. Produce prices are about to skyrocket due to the damage done to citrus and vegetable crops in Florida.

Many markets and restaurants on the coast get fruits and vegetables from Gulf Coast Produce. Mike Alise brings in the bulk of the those products from Florida.

"It's where you get your tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, egg plant, and all those types of vegetables," Alise said.

When Irma blew through the Sunshine State, it created havoc for Florida's crops.

"When those winds went through and knocked all the oranges down, there was ripe fruit that was knocked down and immature fruit that hit the ground," Alise said. "Once it hits the ground, they can't do nothing with it."

As a result of the loss of those crops, prices are going up.

"Tomatoes jumped $5 in just a few days," said Alise.

Florida's most well-known export is oranges. If Alise can't buy his oranges from Florida, he's going to have to look elsewhere, which means it will cost him more.

"They typically pack 68 million boxes of oranges for the fall season. We don't know what's going to happen. It could be severely damaged. That means orange juice is going to go up. We're going to have to buy product from California and maybe from out of the country."

Right now, Alise says the fields are being surveyed to determine the extent of the crop damage, and it could be a while before we start seeing prices stabilize.

"I think we're going to be in for a rough two months, because it takes a while to grow these crops back, 90 days," said Alise.

The Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association estimates a 50 to 70 percent crop loss in South Florida. 
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