The temperatures in California are always warmer than here in the UK, but this year even northern California and the San Francisco Bay area has seen amazingly high temperatures of over 30 degrees Centigrade this late in the year in October and that follows a hot dry summer and the dry spring before. So how does that affect the cost of your baking in the UK? Well from the crops we buy from there of course!
California supplies most of the almonds that we use as well as those famous California Raisins and we have seen a dramatic rise in the prices of both. We use almonds for our specialist cakes and are also experimenting with them when researching a new gluten free range of cakes. We have even been making fruit cakes, which is when this price increase thing came to light.
Less water in California has meant that crops are smaller or produce lower yields and three years ago that was the case, however after three such years of less rain the State of California is now in an official drought situation and has increased the cost of its water to the State’s users, both domestic and industrial. Recently it has gone even further and made a levy on the amount of water anyone can use and if that amount is exceeded then higher prices per gallon of water are applied. You can imagine the effect this has had on farmers producing almonds, raisins, oranges, asparagus and garlic to name but a few of the crops the state is famous for. The farmers are squeezed with higher water costs and lower yields so they have had to increase prices dramatically.
So if you, like us, are getting ready for a baking frenzy for Christmas with fruit cakes, mincemeat and marzipan (almond paste) it might be wise to purchase early before stocks run low and the new seasons produce hits the shops at much higher prices.
So whether it is another effect of climate change or as I said a whole load of butterflies in Asia busy flapping, at least you now know why the almonds and raisins will cost you more!