The rise in food prices, which pushed inflation higher in the last 18 months, is primarily a climate problem, according to Kostas Mastoras, president and founder of Titan Foods in Queens, New York.

"Climate has changed the weather dramatically in recent years limiting food supplies," Mastoras said. "When limited food supplies are combined with rising demand for food, it fuels food inflation."

Foundation for Climate Restoration CEO Rick Wayman agrees.

"Whether it's raging wildfires, debilitating drought or devastating frost, climate change is causing catastrophic weather events. And as a result, farmers are experiencing complete crop failure, causing food costs to rise," he explained. "According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global food prices have soared by 31% over the past year, with extreme weather events listed as a leading cause in supply shortages."

Together with higher fuel prices, food prices are the critical factors behind the spike in inflation in the U.S. as evidenced by the gap between inflation for all items and "core inflation," which excludes food and energy.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI) jumped 0.8% in November on top of 0.9% in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the last 12 months, the all items index climbed 6.8%, while the Core CPI, excluding food and energy, rose 4.9%.

Mastoras provided a few examples of how climate change has affected food supplies. One of them is the supply of dry figs from Messinia, one of the southern provinces of Greece.

"Hot weather has cut fig supplies by close to 70% this year," he said. “Meanwhile, stormy weather in the northern provinces of Greece has cut the supply of giant beans, which have also spiked in price.”

Climate change has impacted the supply of another, more critical commodity: wheat. The U.S., a major wheat producer, experienced dry and warm weather at the wrong time, which impacted how much land was allotted to wheat plantations, wheat production per acre, and eventually, wheat supplies. The same was true with other major wheat producers, like Argentina, Russia, Kazakhstan, France and Germany.

"When tight wheat supplies are combined with higher transportation costs, the result is higher wheat prices to flour mills and eventually to consumers," said Yannis Papailias, commercial director of Halkidiki Flour Mills, SA. "From the harvest season of 2020 to the harvest period of 2021, the price of soft wheat or mini-wheat rose from around $220 per metric ton to $350 per metric ton. Meanwhile, the price of durum or pasta wheat rose from around $250 per metric ton to $550 per metric ton."

These are sizable gains, which spread to every product that is made out of wheat. Durum wheat is the prime material to make pasta. Thus, higher durum wheat prices translate to higher pasta prices.

Papailias doesn't attribute the higher wheat prices entirely to a supply shortfall combined with higher transportation costs.

"Higher demand, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, played a big role, too," he explained. "Early on in the pandemic, people panicked about supply disruptions due to government lockdowns. Thus, they began stockpiling food with a long storage life, like pasta."

Food stockpiling will ease once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, helping food inflation ease. But food inflation won't go away until the climate problems that create unfavorable farming conditions ease, which could last much longer than the COVID-19 pandemic.