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Food Prices Inch Up As California Drought Enters Third Year

LOS ANGELES ( — If your lunch seems a little more expensive than it used to be, analysts say just blame it on the rain — or lack thereof.

KNX 1070's Margaret Carrero reports three years of drought conditions in the Southland and across California are putting upward pressure on food prices, which could soar even higher over the summer season.

Food Prices Inch Up As Calif. Drought Enters Third Year

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more price increases could be in store for In-N-Out, Chipotle, and other popular Southland restaurants as beef and veal prices are projected to jump by as much as 6.5 percent this year.

Poultry and dairy prices are also expected to rise by 3 to 4 percent, while egg products could spike 5 to 6 percent higher, according to the USDA. Fresh fruit prices could also see a jump of as much as 4 percent.

The agency is also projecting supermarket prices overall to rise 2.5 to 3.5 percent over 2013 levels due to the "unusually cold weather" at the end of last year combined with "major impacts" from the statewide drought.

To reflect market costs, In-N-Out last month raised the cost of its hamburgers and cheeseburgers by 10 cents and their famous Double-Double jumped 15 cents to $3.45. French fries were unchanged but soft drinks went up a nickel.

Chipotle also announced an increase in the price of steak burritos and chicken salads by about 5 percent.

For some Angelenos like 24-year-old Manny, who works in the fast food industry and has a wife and 2-year-old daughter, higher food prices often mean making difficult choices.

"I recently had to cut down on my cellphone just to be able to buy food," he said.

Fuel prices, labor wages, imports, and other factors can significantly impact prices in supermarkets on both a regional and a national level, according to the USDA.

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