TODAY | August 15, 2012
>>> drought could send food prices soaring.
>> reporter: experts say the price tag could be hundreds of dollars per family. experts are now saying some of those price hikes will hit shoppers before the end of the year. it's already withered corn crops, cracked the earth and sent ranchers scrambling to feed their herd. the next stop for this year's record drought is the nation's grocery store .
>> i think we're going to see price increases across the board because corn, in particular, is such a ubiquitous product. it's used in the manufacture of most processed food .
>> the ripple effect will be on every isle, cereal and chips. it's animal based hardest hit, beef, dairy, poultry, pork will increase.
>> i would try to find the best price i could. economically we don't have a lot of extra money to spend on groceries to eat.
>> reporter: for a family of four, the price hike will add $615 to their grocery bill in 2016 .
>> i'll be more careful about how much i buy, so there's no way -- and be careful what i buy.
>> reporter: experts predict shoppers will use more coupons and switch to cheaper items to try to beat the rising cost of feeding a family. that means dining out will be more expensive as restaurants pass along their costs to customers. natalie,