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What’s getting more expensive

A combination of short supply and high demand has sent orange prices soaring. Frozen orange juice futures have risen by 50% over the course of the pandemic, reaching a two-year high Thursday. Citrus disease and bad weather are constraining orange crops in the U.S. and globally. And then there’s just plain bad timing, as demand for orange juice had been dipping for the past few years, but experienced a spike during the pandemic — US sales of 100% non-concentrated juices jumped from $5 billion in 2019 to $5.5 billion in 2020 and stayed mostly at that level through 2021.
Florida had such a small harvest last year — only 44.5 million boxes of oranges — its lowest crop since the 1944-45 season. In 2019 to 2020, by contrast, it harvested 73.2 million boxes. Brazil also faced a historic drought that cut its crop by 31% from its 2019-2020 season.

“You have your classical supply-demand mismatch,” said Shawn Hackett, president of Hackett Financial Advisors, which specializes in agricultural commodities analysis. As a result, consumers should expect “much higher prices at the supermarket.”

Homes

The median home sales price was $346,900 in 2021, up 16.9% from 2020. That’s the highest increase on record since 1999, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The housing market frenzy was a boon for the typical homeowner, who accumulated $50,200 in housing wealth, looking at the median price jump from 2020 to 2021.

“That is a sizable wealth gain for homeowners across the country,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “The housing market has seen a spectacular performance this last year with sales rising and prices rising. But inventory is at an all-time low.”

The inventory of unsold existing homes fell to a record low of 910,000 at the end of December, down 18% from November.

Laundry detergent

Proctor & Gamble announced this week it’s raising prices by an average of about 8% on retail customers next month for its Tide and Gain laundry detergents, Downy fabric softener and Bounce dryer sheets.

The company attributed the price increase to cost pressures, including transportation, labor and the commodities it uses to manufacture its products. The US producer price index, a gauge for prices manufacturers are paying, rose 9.7% last year.

Gas

Prices at the pump are rising again. Crude oil climbed above $81 for the first time in two months, and gasoline prices are creeping back up.

“This is a terrible situation. Gas prices are in this political danger zone,” Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told CNN.

Since Monday, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline increased by a penny to $3.32 Thursday, according to AAA. On Friday it reached an average of $3.326.

Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Oklahoma have seen the biggest increases, of 5 cents and more. Prices in Washington D.C. have also jumped 5 cents since last Thursday.

Automobiles

Edmunds, a car shopping website, said the average price for a new car was $46,426 in December 2021, up 14% from the year prior. A computer chip shortage limited production of new vehicles, leading to inventory too low to meet demand.

The record high prices could be coming down, but they won’t reach pre-pandemic levels.

As inventories are projected to build again, experts say there should be less pressure on prices.

J.D. Power forecasts that the average wholesale price of used cars should fall about 9% from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the fourth quarter of this year, and that prices should continue to decline in 2023. But they’re unlikely to get to pre-pandemic levels.

Used car prices also increased almost 40% in December 2021 from the year prior, a new analysis by the Anderson Economic Group found.

CNN Business’ Danielle Wiener-Bronner, Anna Bahney, Nathaniel Meyersohn, Matt Egan, Vanessa Yurkevich and Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

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