Hurricanes could cause produce prices to increase

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Hurricane Harvey is still impacting your prices at the pump. Now, Irma may have an impact on what you buy at the grocery store.

Right now, the shelves at Circle City Produce are stocked with fruits and vegetables, but their supply could soon be impacted by Irma and could cause some delays in getting the fruits and veggies to grocery stores.

“The ports are going to get affected, so stuff coming in from Peru, from Dominican Republic, that’s going to get affected, they won’t be able to get it unloaded,” said Circle City Produce Buyer, Leonard Wall.

Wall said cucumbers, asparagus, strawberries, peppers and snow peas will likely be impacted the most.

“Peppers might be higher, $5-10 per-case higher to us, which means you’re gonna be looking at 20-50 cents more a pepper,” Wall said.

He said the price increases would likely only be temporary, but the biggest concern is for crops that are harvested in the fall. It’s still too early to tell just how much the produce industry could suffer.

“If it comes a little more inland and moves up a little more then you’ll see some effects in the corn and the peppers that will be fall items. You might see some problems there where they couldn’t plant,” Wall said.

It’s not just produce that can cause a strain on your wallet in the wake of devastating storms. Because of oil refinery closures in Texas, thanks to Hurricane Harvey, we’re seeing higher gas prices. Phil Powell, Associate Dean of Academic Programs for IU Kelley School of Business at IUPUI said high gas prices can cause a ripple effect for local business too.

“A number of businesses if they’re dependent upon fuel, if they’re dependent upon plastics, if they’re dependent upon tourism for Florida, they’re going to be impacted. Not in a dramatic way, but enough to see,” Powell said.

It may not be all bad for business, as cities rebuild, there could be economic opportunities for Hoosiers.

“If I’m a Hoosier and I’m in the construction industry, I might find good opportunity down in Florida or Texas right now,” said Powell.

Hurricane Irma could also mean good news for Florida orange farmers. Wall said oranges aren’t quite ready to be picked, so the rain might actually be good for the crop and we could see bigger oranges.

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