With Hurricane Ian forcing the temporary closure of one of America’s largest fertilizer production facilities, food industry and agriculture experts are warning it could cause a spike in grocery store prices.
"There's concern about storm surge, flooding, things that could impact land use, whether it's for growing crops, whether it's for fertilizer," Morning Consult analyst Emily Moquin told FOX Business’ Jeff Flock Thursday, "and eventually those things to work their way into the ingredient costs and then work their way down through the system to the prices that we see in the grocery store."
While Flock noted in his "Varney & Co." report that it’s not currently peak fertilizer season, Hurricane Ian forced Florida fertilizer maker Mosaic Co. to halt operations across Polk County for an unspecified amount of time as disaster relief efforts get underway.
The company’s North American phosphate operations make up "approximately 50 percent of North American farmers’ supply of granular phosphate fertilizer, and 12 percent of the global supply" in a given year, the company said in a fact sheet.
After Hurricane Ian made landfall along Florida’s west coast Wednesday afternoon, more than 2.5 million residents are left without power with some in Lee and Charlotte counties completely "off the grid," Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a press conference Thursday morning.
Florida State University business professor Chuck Nyce also predicted Hurricane Ian will create $70 billion worth of damage Wednesday evening on FOX Business' "Kennedy."
Though the exact level of damage across Mosaic’s phosphate mines remains unknown, the company’s product output is likely to decrease, which directly increases a crop’s input price and therefore its market price.
"It's something like 50% of granular fertilizer is coming from that area. It's a very high percentage, huge concentration," Fox News contributor and economist Brian Brenberg said following Flock’s report. "So you think about food prices, I think that's the price that's going to matter most when we get into the midterms. Everybody's watching that."
The latest inflation reading from August’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed food prices took their biggest jump since 1979, with the cost of eggs increasing 39.8%, milk 17%, fruits and vegetables 9.4% and meats going up 6.7%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
In an email statement sent Wednesday, Mosaic stated that all Florida facility locations had been secured, with some "fully evacuated" as minimal staff remained at other sites. Mosaic employees have also been able to work remotely from their headquarters in Tampa, according to Reuters.
Mosaic previously declined to speculate on potential impacts to operations before Hurricane Ian’s impact, but did provide the following statements to FOX Business.
"Mosaic's North America Incident Command Team started coordinating with operating sites last week in advance of Hurricane Ian," the company said in a statement. "We continue monitoring weather updates while completing preparations at our phosphate and production facilities in Florida as well as sites in Louisiana."
FOX Business’ Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report.