The importance of food to human beings health is quite unlimited especially healthy foods like vegetables and fruits. In addition to other foods like proteins and carbohydrates vegetables and fruits have a necessary value to human health as they provide vitamin C. These nutrients are vital to the human health as they protect them from several diseases like cancer, eyesight problems, and many more.
This paper seeks to establish the main explanations as to why the cost of healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables keep increasing in the market. Prices of goods increase, and this increase occur due to various reasons, and that is what this paper seeks to determine. The firm increase in prices of all commodities has made it harder for people to choose foods that are healthier in the stores. An important aspect in trying to feed a family is ensuring that they have healthy and nutritious foods, and for this reason, the subject of increase in prices of food is a critical subject. People everywhere care about the subject and hence in this paper we are going to identify some of the reasons that lead to the increase of food prices.
This paper aims at coming up with the reasons and explanation for the increase of food prices especially the healthy ones like fruits and vegetables. These explanations and reasons will be from various researches done by other concerned parties and recorded in secondary sources such as books. In research, information can be from primary or secondary sources. Primary sources of information involve first hand information obtained using interviews, questionnaires, and observation. Secondary information is from books, electronic database, and magazines among other records. In this paper, most of the information was from books. We now focus on the explanation that various economists and other people have come up as the reason for the increase in the cost of healthy foods.
Supply and demand
The first reason that most economists and researchers attribute to the increase of food prices especially the healthy ones like fruits and vegetables is their demand. One of the major rules in economics is that prices of commodities will always determine the demand and supply of these goods in the market. Fruits and vegetables are healthy foods whose demand is all through the year. Considering that these foods are seasonal and only grow in different parts of the country once a year, the vendors still need to stock the stores with these foods. This constant demand of fruits and vegetables imposes an economic strain on the on the suppliers. In return, the suppliers reflect these costs on the consumer.
In comparison to other foods which are high in calories, fruits and vegetables tend to increase in costs depending on the season. During high season when their production is at its peak the prices will be relatively stable, but, when the season changes the prices go up. Their demand being constant and does not change with the season, the suppliers will increase their prices in order to cover up for the costs of bringing in stock from places where they are in season. This price fluctuation will be reflected in both domestic and international markets. When the fresh fruits and vegetables are not in season their supply decreases. Decrease in supply leads to an increase in prices of the foods. Therefore, supply and demand of fruits and vegetables significantly affects their prices.
There have been many significant factors which influence the quantity of fruits and fresh vegetables and global warming is one of them. This has had negative climatic effects that have damaged the production of these foods thereby reducing their supply. Acceleration of prices comes as a result of the rising pressure on farm food production. The reduction in yields are due to global warming, which is being damage by contamination of the atmosphere; the quality has reduced by 60 percent according to ADB (2008) the countries yield has declined due to poor climatic conditions.
The issue of free of greenhouse gas emission is rising the earth’s temperature whereby the consequences usually follows on melting glaciers, more precipitation, and fundamentally change in seasons of production. The accelerating pace of climate change, combined with the general public and income growth, threatens food security worldwide.
Agriculture, which is in direct connection to the production of fruits and vegetables, is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Higher temperatures reduce the yields of this produce as the temperatures provide a chance for pests and weed proliferation. Differences in precipitation patterns increase the chances of short-run crop shortages and long-run production reduces. Although there will be an increase in some crops in some parts of the world, the overall effects of climate change on expected of agriculture to be negative, threatening global food security.
Climate change is also putting pressure on water supplies for agricultural production of vegetables and fruits, changing stream flows, and its availability. Water is becoming difficult to obtain: therefore, expensive global demand for water has tripled in the last few years and limited use ground water supplies in the USA. The impact of climatic change has adversely impact on productivity of vegetables production and causes disruption both in the long term and short term. This impact is evident in the low supply of these foods in areas where the production was quite high.
Another reason for the increase in the prices of healthy foods is the cost the producers and vendors incur to bring these foods to the market or stores. Healthy foods comprise of fruits and vegetables and these are perishable and seasonal goods. The first cost that one incurs while dealing with foods is the transport cost. The transportation of these fruits and vegetables ends up reflecting in the overall cost. This transportation can be from overseas as these foods are not locally available. Most of the fruits are imports from other countries and transportation will involve means like shipping, air transport, and railway transport. Most of these means of transport are extraordinarily expensive, but, they are the most appropriate ones. For example, the transportation of some fruits from other nations using the shipping means of transport can be expensive as it requires the refrigeration of the goods. These refrigeration equipments are expensive, and the transporters are the ones incurring the cost.
Transport involves the use of fuel in all means that are in use for example, shipping, air travel, road etc. Energy costs affect all level of the food production sector. In contemporary records oil prices, in excess, has increased from $110 per barrel and which has cost throughout the marketing chain. High petroleum prices increase the competitiveness in food production especially in vegetable and fruits production.
Post harvest loss
Post harvest loss is another significant explanation to the increase in of prices of healthy foods. Post harvest loss refers to the loss of the produce after its harvesting. This happens mostly to agriculture products, and the healthy foods in focus are agricultural products. During harvesting, losses occur in different ways. First the fruits can be harvested when they are already ripe and, therefore, need expert storage before they get to the market. This is normally hard to the farmers as they lack the storage facilities. In turn, they experience several losses of the products and this lose is normally incurred by consumers of the produce.
Another harvesting loss occurs when the produce are affected by diseases and pests. Fungi and bacteria are diseases, which cause these losses of fruits and vegetables and so are the virus diseases, common in growing crops. It is characterized by severe presence of holes makes which makes infected, fruit to be unusable. This is often the result of inflammation of fruits and vegetables in the field before harvest. Quality thrashing occurs when the infection affects only the top of the fruits. Also, skin blemishes may reduce the sale cost but do not make the fruit bad, and inedible products. Fungal and bacterial diseases spread by tiny spores, which distribute in the air and earth and via decaying plant material. Infection after consequence can occur at any instance. It is usually the result of harvesting or handling injuries. These post harvest losses expenses are reflected in the selling price of the produce which is normally high.
Post harvest loss has been a serious problem which comes because of various reasons, varying from growing conditions to handling at the retail level. Not only are these losses a waste, they sometimes constitute a homogeneous abuse of human efforts, livelihoods, scarce resource such as water, and investments.
Fruits and fresh vegetables hold a high proportion of water. Loss of water content after harvesting by fruits and vegetables usually cause shrinkage and loss of appeal for the agricultural products. The rate at which they lose water, fruits mainly depend on leafy vegetables, which prevent water quickly because they have thin skin pores. The rate of loss relates to the difference between the water vapor pressure inside the fruits and vegetables and in the air. But whatever the outcome, to promote food or storage account the cost of water trouncing must be minimal. The most noteworthy feature is the ratio of the outside area of the fruit or vegetable to its volume.
Early harvesting of fruits and vegetables normally occurs so as to avoid extra costs on transportation. Transporting fully ripe produce leads to extra costs as it will require considerable storage facilities to keep the harvest fresh and consumable. In addition, transportation of ripe products leads to the production of extremely dangerous chemicals that are harmful to the consumer.
The change in market structure of these foods is yet another reason for the increase of prices. The process of market structure and formation involve processing, handling, and distribution of the produce. These processes have led to the increase prices as the elements of these processes keep fluctuating. This mainly affects spending expense on commodities in the market, and this factor contributes to high price level in USA. For instance, the process of manufacturing keeps changing because of the constant change in technology. The manufacturing equipments keep on improving, and this equally reflects on the manufacturing cost. The increase in manufacturing cost in turn leads to the increase of prices of these commodities.
In conclusion, it is evident that the increase in the cost of healthy foods like fruits and fresh vegetables is as a result of several reasons. Among these reasons are the change in the market structure of the products, the demand and supply, climatic conditions, and energy costs. Together all these reasons lead to the high cost of healthy foods that consumers have to incur. There is no escaping these costs as health of families is of considerable importance to the American citizens, and no one is ready to risk their families. Most Americans citizens will prefer incurring high expenses of food than incurring the medical expenses.