Effects of US drought on food industry

Despite early August rainfall, about two-thirds of the US – mostly across the Midwest and in the South – has endured what climatologists have described as this country's most severe drought in more than 50 years. Robert H. Smith School of Business faculty experts are available to comment on the implications for food and energy consumption.

The Smith School has an in-house broadcast facility for live or taped interviews via fiber-optic line for television or multimedia content.

Jie Zhang, associate professor of marketing and the Harvey Sanders Fellow of Retail Management, can discuss drought implications for the retail grocery industry.

"Consumers are likely to see price increases of fresh produce soon, as the persistent heat and dry spell drive up the costs of production. But the more profound and widespread impact is through chain reactions in the supply chain due to rising prices of commodity crops, especially corn," Sanders says. "Rising costs of corn can lead to price hikes in a wide range of grocery products, from eggs, dairy, poultry, beef, to packaged foods such as snacks and cereals. These effects can take many months to show up. One thing is for sure, consumers will feel the pinch when paying their grocery bills."

Zhang teaches retail management and has published research in marketing and management journals such as Marketing Science, the Journal of Marketing Research, and Management Science. Contact her at 301-405-7899 or jiejie@rhsmith.umd.edu.