JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Russell Clayton has been dishing up thai food at Pattaya Thai on the Southside for 23 years, but this year, he's doing business a little differently.
"We're not buying in bulk right now because we can't pass the price on to our customers," he told Action News.
Produce like lettuce, green onions and broccoli have nearly doubled in the past two weeks, so Clayton has started shopping around at different stores and only buying what he needs.
"We used to pay $16 for broccoli and now we're looking at $30 for it. For lettuce, we used to pay $20 for a case, and now it's up to $40.
The price increase can be blamed on a perfect storm of problems. Nationwide, the average cost of gas has jumped $0.08 over last month, and freezing temperatures on the West Coast are ruining crops.
Those are the same crops that were already suffering from drought and heat wave, that sped up the growing season in the fall. Growers in California, Arizona, and Mexico were forced to harvest early which created a surplus that led to great losses in revenue. Now, freezing temperatures are ruining their second chance at a successful year.
"Basically we have a 10-week supply, we're told from our growers and suppliers in California, for what is typically a 14-week demand," said Marshall Sherman, Director of Operations for Garden Wholesale Company in Jacksonville.
By next week, Sherman thinks prices could double, triple and even quadruple for leafy greens, citrus, and berries.
Right now, produce growing in the Arizona desert is covered in ice, forcing product volume to dwindle while demand continues nationwide.
"You'll typically see case products from $9 to $11 coming from the west coast, and now we're seeing products being quoted $30 to $40 for the same items."
Sherman says he's working with local restaurants -- which make 85 percent of his business -- to help absorb the cost, but turning to local growers and adjusting menus when possible.
"It's hard for them to just change their menu and pass that cost onto the consumer.
That's something Clayton says isn't an option, for a restaurant with 23 years in the market, mixed with an economy where consumers are watching every dollar.
"Things aren't good, so to raise the prices doesn't really make sense."
Sherman says the biggest increase will likely be seen on processed and convenience foods like prepackaged salads. He says buying local and menu planning will help local families save when costs jump over the next two weeks.
Consumers should expect prices to continue to rise for many items through the end of February.