Bad weather to blame for tomato prices

Local tomato lovers have been hit below the belt.
And it’s the worst of both worlds. Either you can’t find the little red fruit or you end up paying three times the amount per pound than you did through the summer.
Up to 4.99/pound. What’s up with that!?
Blame Mother Nature.
Florida hurricanes, California floods, and Mexican bugs have brought down the tomato plants of suppliers and the ripple effect is being felt across North America.
“The weather affects all of us—it’s terrible!” Debbie Connon, produce manager for The Place here, said Monday. “We received a notice a while back that [high prices] were because of hurricanes and flooding.
“[Sales] are going, but going slowly—slow but steady,” she added. “If you really want a tomato, you’re going to buy one.”
“We’ve been told [by head office] that the prices could go even higher,” echoed a Safeway produce clerk earlier this week.
“[Availability of tomatoes] is here and there,” she noted. “We can get the vine-ripe ones and the hot house ones, but the large tomatoes—we can’t get those.”
Meanwhile, local restaurants are feeling the pinch, but not all are passing it down to the customer.
“We have to give [our customers] what they want,” Brenda Kellar, manager of the local Pizza Hut, reasoned Monday.
“It’s like when romaine lettuce prices went up a few years ago—we offer it on our menus and we have to give it to our customers as if we haven’t noticed a rise in cost,” she stressed.
“We’re just riding it out,” echoed Harvey Perry, owner of Subway Sandwiches and Salads here. “Prices are high for green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes—anything out of the U.S.”
“[Suppliers] said it would balance out likely by the end of November, but prices are still high,” he added.
“There are awful prices for tomatoes right now,” agreed Bruce Parker of Mr. Sub on Scott Street. “I’ve heard of restaurants charging customers 50 cents for a slice of tomato, but I can’t do that.”
In North America, tomatoes rank as the fourth-most popular type of produce after potatoes, lettuce, and onions.

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