US faces shortage of ketchup – Bloomberg
Drought and high fuel and fertilizer prices could soon deprive American kitchens of the tomato sauce
Rising prices on fuel and fertilizers in the US in tandem with extreme weather conditions could lead to a shortage of tomatoes, thus sending prices on tomato sauces even higher, Bloomberg reported on Saturday, citing producers.
According to the report, a drought-induced water shortage is affecting production in the state of California, the region responsible for a quarter of the world’s output of processing tomatoes, the variety used in the commercial production of the most popular tomato sauces, including ketchup. The prices of tomato sauce and ketchup have already significantly outpaced what is already the highest inflation in four decades in the US.
Tomato sauce in July was selling for 17% more than a year ago, while ketchup prices have grown 23% year-on-year, the report says, citing data from market research firm IRI. Tomato paste prices at Ingomar, a supplier of processed tomatoes to some of the largest US food brands, are currently 80% higher than last year.
“It’s real tough to grow a tomato crop right now… On one side you have the drought impacting costs because you don’t have enough water to grow all your acres, and then you have the farm inflation side of it with fuel and fertilizer costs shooting up,” Mike Montna, head of the California Tomato Growers Association, told Bloomberg.
The tomato crop in California has been gradually declining for the past six years, and analysts expect this year to be no exception. The US Department of Agriculture estimates this year’s harvest will be around 11.7 million tons (versus the last production peak of 14.4 million tons in 2015), but industry experts fear it will fall below this estimate. This could entail a shortage of tomato-based products in the coming months.
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