Pizza News

No Relief Yet From Tomato Freeze

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, “Restaurant operations impacted by the recent shortage of tomatoes brought on by severe winter weather won’t see any relief until at least mid-April, when warmer weather returns and other regions can fill the need for supply, industry experts said.”

“This winter’s deep freezes across the East Coast wreaked havoc on tomato growers, and caused prices for viable and ripe tomatoes to skyrocket. Restaurateurs were forced to devise ways to use less of the product or find alterative sources for both economic and supply-related reasons.’This has really been the perfect storm for tomatoes,’ said Brian Kane, vice president of client services for ProAct USA, a Monterey, Calif.-based produce distributor. ‘Obviously, the key has been the Florida freeze that happened back in early January. It is now that everyone is starting to feel the effects of that damage; the blooms haven’t been able to drop so the growers are not getting full-size tomatoes.”

“Kane said production should begin ramping up in the Carolinas next month, which will help alleviate the supply-demand issue and decrease costs for some operators. Recent prices have risen by double digits, sometimes $10, $15 or $20 a case because of the supply-demand situation, he said. According to USDA pricing information, a two-layer flat pack of round tomatoes from Mexico cost between $6.95 and $8 in February, for example, and just one month later, around March 1, the same product was priced at $26.95.”

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