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Drought Will Raise Prices On Fruit, Squeezing Consumers

CHICAGO (CBS) – Fruit farmer across the Midwest are being hit by a drought double-whammy.

They're seeing less produce and lower quality, which translates into higher prices for consumers.

"Normally, over here, we'd have blackberries and a lot more raspberries," store clerk Samuel Judge tells CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker.

Normally, too, you'd see plumper potatoes, a few more peaches and four kinds of lettuce on this shelf.

"But because of the sun we can't sell it," Judge says.

Some of the shelves are practically bare at the downtown farm stand because the store only sells Michigan crops. But with the drought in Michigan and across the Midwest, this year's harvest took a hit in quantity and quality.

Taste isn't the only thing affected by the drought. Analysts say prices will also take a hit.

"It's not greed. It's supply motivated," says Peter Panagiotarus, who owns Stanley's Fruit and Vegetables in Noble Square.

Because of the limited supply of Michigan blueberries, he's selling them for $2.49 a pound this year.

Last year, they only cost $1.49 a pound. Asparagus is $2.98 this year, compared to $1.49 last year. Popular Michigan apples are also up.

"Some guys in Michigan are down 70 to 75  percent of their apple crop. These are things that are going to affect us later on," Panagiotarus says.

Instead of paying $1.49 a pound, get ready to fork over $2.50.

"You just have to find some other place to save some money," shopper Linda Cornick says.

Meat prices are expected to rise, too, because farmers will pay more for the agriculture products they feed livestock.

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