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Shoppers frustrated after Trader Joe's increases popular food price for first time in 20 years: 'End of an era'

"We only change our prices when our costs change."

"We only change our prices when our costs change."

Photo Credit: iStock

Trader Joe's has raised the price of its bananas for the first time in more than 20 years, drawing widespread attention on social media as food prices continue to increase.  

What's happening?

Near the end of March, the Guardian detailed how the grocery store chain now charges 23 cents per banana, a four-cent increase. The news was first reported by CNN.  

"We only change our prices when our costs change, and after holding our price for bananas at 19 cents each for more than two decades, we've now reached a point where this change is necessary," Trader Joe's public relations manager Nakia Rohde said in a statement published by both outlets

Madeline Thomas, whom the Guardian described as a Trader Joe's "superfan," shared with the news organization that one shopper lamented the move as the "end of an era." 

Why is this concerning?

While it's only an increase of four cents, it adds up for many families. That's especially true when considering the rising costs of other foods, many of which have gone up with a direct link to their crops being affected by increasing global temperatures, such as coffee and cocoa beans. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that food prices rose by 25% from 2019 to 2023. The soaring costs have made it difficult for some families to make ends meet. 

Our climate is one factor impacting the availability and cost of many popular foods. While El Niño, a natural weather phenomenon, leads to severe weather, scientists believe our warming planet is supercharging extreme events and making them more common. 

In England, unusual rain has decimated staple crops like potatoes, carrots, and wheat. In southern Africa, millions are going hungry as the result of a drought and other storms that devastated crops. 

Banana crops haven't escaped unscathed. Warmer temperatures have also been linked to the increased spread of crop-destroying pathogens and pests

"Trader Joe's didn't do a great job in sharing why the price went up," Phil Lempert, a consumer trend-watcher and analyst, told the Guardian. "The Cavendish banana we all know and love is under siege from this fungus and it very well may be extinct soon. … I wish we could bring the conversation to a broader place and really talk about the impact that climate change has on our food supply."

What's being done about climate-linked food insecurity?

As far as pests are concerned, scientists have been developing chemical-free ways to make our food crops more resilient.

Oregon State University researchers created a musical robot that could protect our vineyards by preventing pests from reproducing, while an aroma-based solution from the University of Sydney could deter mice from chowing down on growing wheat. 

Pest- and disease-resistant quinoa could be around the corner as well, thanks to a breakthrough discovery involving the superfood's natural structure. 

Reducing pollution that causes the rise of global temperatures can also bring things back into balance. The United States has invested billions in clean-energy projects. Our actions, both large and small, can support those efforts and save us money. Signing up for community solar or walking and biking when possible are some options. 

Meanwhile, Trader Joe's had some good news for consumers. According to the Guardian, tri-color bell peppers, raw almonds, and romaine hearts were among the healthy foods that saw price reductions at the grocer's locations. 

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