Where have all the tomatoes gone

By Sharon Kolankiewicz
November 19, 2004

Paul Nasella

Imagine pizza shops not having enough tomato sauce to make the pizzas. Imagine going to Wendy’s or McDonald’s and the sandwiches are missing the slices of tomatoes.

Believe it or not many restaurants and especially pizzerias are suffering from the current tomato shortage. According to recent studies, there is a variety of reasons for the tomato shortage. The recent shortage and the sky-rocketing prices have caused restaurant and pizza businesses to make changes to the menus.

The weather is also playing a role in the shortage. The hurricanes in Florida and the harsh weather in California have affected the shortage as well.

According to a recent report from CNN, the hurricanes which hit Florida really hard in the past couple months have caused the prices in tomatoes to double. Over 90 percent of the U.S.’ tomato crop is produced in Florida.

Major restaurant chains such as Wendy’s depend on large quantities of tomatoes. Recently the franchise decided not to advertise a new sandwich that are each topped with a slice of tomato. Recent statistics from Poynter Online state that Hurricane Charley and Francis, which hit Florida, forced farmers to replant the damaged tomatoes.

Gary Lucier an economist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has said that since October, the prices have increase 167 percent. It is about $15 for a 25 pound box of tomatoes. The heavy amount of rain that has hit California has flooded the tomato crops.

Apparently, the pizzerias have been suffering the most. Many of the businesses are still recovering from the high prices of cheese. In addition, the Atkins Diet has caused people to avoid pizza due to the crust. The price for meat has also increased, and now they are faced with the price increase of the tomatoes.

Despite the increase in prices in tomatoes there is still hope for restaurants and the pizza shops. Sources in the pizza industry have expressed the tomatoes used in pizza sauces have now been harvested earlier than tomatoes used in for salads. However, if the high demand of tomatoes increases faster than the rate the farmers can replenish the crops, the higher prices will remain.

The assistant manager of Domino’s Pizza in Wayne said, “We are not aware of the tomato shortage as of now. It is not to say that the effect of the shortage won’t get worse. But so far we have not been aware or affected by a tomato shortage.”

On the other hand, some students have noticed an increase in prices for pizza this year compared to last fall. Maureen Cooper, a junior, said, “I definitely have noticed the price increase of pizza. Last year I paid less for pizza, and now today I pay more. Buying pizza is becoming more expensive.”

Although some regions in the United States have been more affected by the shortage, some experts still worry about the future outcome. They are hoping the farmers will be able to replenish the tomato shortage quickly. They also hope that there will not be any future harsh weather effects such as Hurricanes Charley and Francis.

Posted to the web by Paul Nasella

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Sharon Kolankiewicz

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