Hurricane Ian may spike food prices

Food prices could spike as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida and threatens to disrupt the fertilizer supply.

Hurricane Ian, which became a Category 3 storm early Tuesday, is expected to make landfall on Florida's Gulf Coast sometime mid-week, according to a public advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds of about 120 mph late Tuesday afternoon.

Multiple counties in Florida, including the one encompassing Tampa, have issued mandatory evacuation orders for select areas as of Tuesday.

Mosaic Co., which mines phosphate and potash and uses them to make fertilizers, is headquartered in Tampa. Its 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.

The company has multiple phosphate mining and manufacturing sites in the west-central part of Florida, according to its website. Mosaic declined to speculate on potential impacts to operations at the time of publication 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."

Employees based at Mosaic's Tampa headquarters and other Florida locations are "working remotely so they can be safe and focus on their own personal preparation," according to the statement. The company said it is also communicating with its customers "so they're aware of any impact to services."

"In anticipation of substantial impact from Hurricane Ian, we have taken the appropriate steps to protect our people, mines, plants, port facilities and administrative offices," Mosaic said in another statement to FOX Business.

Hurricane-related disruptions to the fertilizer supply could potentially cause food prices, already slammed by inflation, to climb even more, as many farmers utilize them to help grow crops. Extreme weather conditions for farmers, supply chain issues and geopolitical tensions are some factors that have contributed to food prices rising, FOX Business previously reported.

Food prices in the consumer price index in August rose 0.8% from July and have spiked 11.4% from a year ago, according to the Labor Department.

Bloomberg was first to report on Mosaic's Florida footprint.