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Food prices could jump even higher this summer as cooling costs rise with gas prices

Refrigerated trucks will have to run longer and harder to keep food cool this summer.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — If you think you’ve got it bad with these high gas prices, imagine buying hundreds of gallons of gas every single day.

That’s the situation many transportation companies are finding themselves in right now.

Nick Olsen is the president at Winnesota Regional Transportation in Eden Prairie, and he says their 87 trucks usually average around five to six miles per gallon.

With the way gas prices are right now, that's basically a dollar a mile.

“It’s just so expensive,” Olsen said. “For the most part we’re paying the same prices everyone else is at the pump.”

For refrigerated trucks, there’s added cost on top of that.

Olsen says his company has several refrigerated trucks that are used to transport food products, and those refrigeration systems are powered by diesel fuel.

“I’d say those trucks are using as much as three to four gallons of diesel per day just to cool them,” Olsen said. "It's really affecting the cost of transportation in a significant way."

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From the trucking companies to the grocery stores, the extra cost eventually falls on the consumer.

Olsen expects those costs will go up even higher later this summer.

"The hotter it gets, the more those engines have to work and keep things cool and fight hard to maintain the temperatures,” Olsen explained.

That's why many perishable items — like eggs, meat and milk — have seen some of the highest price increases in recent weeks.

On Friday, we'll get a better picture of where those prices are at when the newest consumer price index comes out.

Meanwhile, Olsen says trucking companies are doing everything they can to cut down on costs.

"When you do deliveries you have to open up the truck and get everything out, and so you move quickly because the warm air can get in and make it more expensive to keep things cold,” Olsen said. “The drivers, the customers, everyone is sensitive to the fact that it’s getting hotter out.”

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