Food price increases raise concern across the US amid Russia-Ukraine tensions

Analysts say the disruption if Russia invades Ukraine would most directly impact Ukrainian's biggest wheat buyers.
PHILADELHPHIA (WPVI) -- Shoppers have already been paying more for groceries, and there's concern that the price of certain agricultural products could climb even higher.

The Philadelphia Produce Wholesale Market was bustling on Wednesday morning.

Fresh fruits and vegetables fill the 700,000 square-foot., fully-refrigerated market in South Philadelphia.

Food prices have shot up globally.

T.M. Kovacevich Phila., Inc. and Garden State Farms-Procacci Brothers say they've seen increasing costs in the produce industry.

"Prices are already at $100 a barrel for oil, so a large part of the expense of produce is the transportation that it takes to get it to market," said Tom Kovacevich, president of T.M. Kovacevich Phila., Inc.

Dave DiPascale of Garden State Farms- Procacci Brothers said, "Transportation costs over the last year have gotten astronomical."

DiPascale says the cost of labor and packaging have also increased.

"Unfortunately, it all gets passed down the line to the consumer," he added.

Analysts say the disruption in commodity markets if Russia invades Ukraine-- would most directly impact the biggest buyers of Ukrainian wheat, including Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

"I'm sure it's going to affect prices globally-I don't know how much it is going to affect prices here- that's something that we're going to have to wait and see how severe it gets," said DiPascale.

Over the weekend, the U.S. secretary of agriculture said wheat farmers in the United States-- will boost production and prevent supply chain problems if an invasion jeopardizes agricultural exports from Ukraine.

Companies locally are also keeping an eye on fuel prices.

"We've seen overall that the increases that we've had to pass along from increases in fuel and transportation costs have been absorbed and not affected movement. Now, if that was to double again, maybe that would be a different story," said Kovacevich.

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