For some California farmers, weather conditions have been so bad they are unable to produce enough tomatoes for “ketchup” as retailers demand. And now it’s no joke that Americans may soon be feeling the pinch with their favorite dishes.
That’s because the Golden State leads the world in canned tomato production — stocking popular foods like pizza, salsa and pasta sauce — and that crop dried up during the winter. one of the worst droughts in over a thousand years.
“We desperately need rain,” said Mike Montna, director of the California Tomato Growers Association. Bloomberg, “We’re getting to a point where we’re out of stock to continue to meet market demand… It’s really hard to grow a crop of tomatoes right now.”
Tomato processing are specifically grown in the California region and are used to make sauces, pastes and soups as they are not particularly juicy and very durable which means they are good for cooking. Due to current state restrictions limiting groundwater and the high cost of labour, fuel and fertilizer, growers have seen skyrocketing increases in the price of producing these tomatoes in recent years. , leading to a steady decline in yields.
The The USDA reported that since its peak in 2015, California’s processing tomato supply has dropped significantly, from 14 million tons to just 11 million in 2021. Much of the problem is due to the region’s persistent drought.
“There just aren’t enough acres of processing tomatoes planted this year to ensure everyone gets their full supply,” said R. Greg Pruett, manager of one of the largest tomato processors. in the world, Ingomar Packing Co., in an interview with Bloomberg. “Water is either too expensive or simply unavailable at all costs.”
Pruett pointed out that tomato paste has grown 80% for retailers in the last year alone and those who have not yet secured their supply (if they are looking for large quantities) will not find it, no matter the cost. .
“There’s obviously a point where that relationship is going to break if frozen pizza, pasta sauce and other staples are priced to the point where the average consumer wants to decide to do something else,” Pruett said.
Although whether there is a pizza and pasta substitute for consumers could be up for debate. In a society where 43% of Americans eat a piece of pie at least once a week, it may be more difficult than expected. But then again, the impending shortage of their favorite weekday meals may make that decision for them.
Amber Lake is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! and holds a journalism degree from UNF in Jacksonville, Florida. Read more