NEWARK, N.J. (CBS 2) — Heat and rain in parts of the country have sent corn prices soaring and that could hit area residents hard in the wallet at the grocery store.

Soft drinks, cereals, mayonnaise, frozen foods, salad dressings and ketchup are among the processed foods that use corn as an ingredient. Economists said with the prices of corn going up, shoppers could end up paying more for some of those foods at the grocery store in the coming months.

That news has some Tri-State shoppers worried.

“Of course it’s a concern — especially in this economy with all of us working harder and looking to do the best things for our family,” Jennifer McCarthy of Cranford told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

“Our paychecks are going down and the prices of everything are going up,” another shopper said.

But others said they would be willing to take a small hit if it helped the American farmer.

“If it was a couple percentage and it keeps the American farmer going, I’m all for it, but…if it’s 20 or 30 percent and I can’t buy those items anymore then definitely it would be a concern of mine,” Steven Bradley of Colonia said.

At the Emporium Supermarket in Newark, owner Luis Almida said he hasn’t seen a change in prices yet.

“It takes a few weeks and even a month for the products to really go up,” Almida said.

Some shoppers said that if prices of items with corn do go up, they may just turn to the healthier foods including fruits, vegetables and water.

Processed foods may not be the only foods affected as some meat producers use corn for livestock feed.

Still, economists say, it remains unclear if companies will choose to pass on the added costs to the consumer in the difficult economy.

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