Just as the spike in oil prices has made a trip to the gas station a painful experience, the cost to ship goods has increased significantly.
The New York Times reported that due to the high cost of oil, transportation has become an even greater factor for businesses and is "upsetting the logic of diffuse global supply chains, that treat geography as a footnote in the pursuit of lower wages." (The example: When chicken and fish are raised or caught in the West, shipped to Asia to be filleted and packaged, and then shipped back to the West to be eaten.)
The article focuses mostly on industrial manufacturers, but food is a huge part of this issue, as we're used to getting berries and avocados in winter, not even questioning where they might be grown.
The article suggests higher transportation costs could turn some foods that are now frequently found in middle-class homes into luxuries.
But shipping costs may also be promoting the local food movement.
The Times also reported on how supermarkets are cashing in on this local trend, and are in fact competing with farmers' markets for the widest variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Naturally, smaller local farmers have benefited.
And as usual, Wal-Mart is a good marker for the trend. The paper reports that last month Wal-Mart announced that it plans to spend $400 million this year on locally grown produce.
Agribusiness giants such as Dole and Nunes are getting in on the act too. The article says those two companies have contracted with farmers in the East to grow products like broccoli and leafy greens that they used to ship from the West Coast.
It's still a work in progress, as some bigger stores learn to deal with smaller farms, and farms get up to speed on pricing, invoicing and ordering systems.
But many in the industry believe the local movement is not a fad. Matt Seeley, vice president for marketing of the Nunes Company, is quoted in the article: "Its going to be a way of life. I dont think there is any turning back."
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