B.C. food prices expected to rise dramatically

An extended drought in California is at the root of warnings that B.C. is about to face skyrocketing produce prices.

A report released Friday predicts the price of fruits and vegetables could rise as much as 34 per cent in the next year, hitting the pocketbooks of British Columbians hard.

Wake up Call: California Drought and B.C.'s Food Security was commissioned by Vancity credit union and looks at the effects of a persistent drought in California over the past three years with, the report says, the past 30 months being the driest on record.

The impact will be felt keenly in B.C., because of the province's over reliance on imported food, with a concomitant reduction in crops produced here. Vegetable crops in B.C. have, the report says, dropped by 20.4 per cent since 1991.

"The trend in two important staple vegetable crops, broccoli and lettuce, showed decrease in production of 52 per cent in the case of broccoli and 34 per cent in the case of lettuce between 1996 and 2011," the report notes.

"In 2010, 67 per cent of B.C. vegetable imports came from the U.S., over half of which is produced in California."

Prices for broccoli and lettuce are predicted to jump by 22 per cent and 34 per cent respectively this year.

"If these trends continue," the report says, "paying $7 for a crown of broccoli or $3.50 for a head of lettuce could be a reality in the next five years."