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Tomato shortage?

DiveFan Oct 4, 2006 12:03 AM

Due to the combo of agribusiness, foreign imports and megamart distribution practices I've come to expect 49 weeks of consistently mediocre tomatoes in the market, even here in California.
However this year appears to be different. After two or three weeks of better, cheaper (presumably more local) tomatoes, prices have more than doubled *instantly* everyplace and the quality is consistently and astonishingly BAD everyplace!
What is going on? Did someone empty or manipulate the pipeline?

  1. m
    morebubbles Oct 7, 2006 11:45 AM

    I went to a local market last weekend & got 20 lbs of plum tomatoes for $5, yes $5, the last of the season I'm sure (they weren't overripe or anything). Anyway, I've had fun this week making tomato-based recipes & roasting a bunch & then freezing them. No shortage here, I guess.

    1. h
      hummingbird Oct 7, 2006 03:15 AM

      Last weekend went to buy grape tomatoes. Costco was out, went to a grocery store that had them for $1.29 the week before, they were now $3.69! Did not buy.

      Local farm was out. Didn't have a great season here at all, due to all kinds of weather related problems.

      Tody went to Costco and got them for their usual price of $4.59 - their usual price. So not sure what is going on around here in MA.

      1. Ed Dibble Oct 6, 2006 09:02 PM

        Weirdly, I just bought a half dozen wonderful Emeril Heirlooms from the local Albertson's for $3.99 a pound.

        I haven't noticed any difference in tomatoes, but then I almost never buy standard grocery store tomatoes.

        ed

        1. pikawicca Oct 6, 2006 12:51 AM

          It's been a great year for tomatoes here in Indiana. My freezer is full of oven-roasted toms, and I've put up 50 quarts of sauce. I think that our growing conditions are more forgiving than other locales, as we rarely have a "bad year." Commiserations to all who are not so fortunate. I suggest buying supermarket plum tomatoes and slow-roasting them. Even an inferior tomato tastes awfully good when treated this way.

          1. MikeG Oct 6, 2006 12:37 AM

            Same deal in the NE, for the opposite reason - way too much rain following a late, cold Spring. At best the tomatoes were good, but they never hit that "ohmygod" point that's the whole reason for vine-ripened tomatoes in the first place.:( Everything was kind of watery and so while fruit was sweet, it was diluted. The joys of farming! It has tapered off, so the Fall produce doesn't seem to be as badly hit. (fingers crossed)

            One weird thing I noticed is that non-local scallions jumped up in price almost 2x in a very short space of time. Anyone know where those come from in late Summer/Fall? Mexico?

            2 Replies
            1. re: MikeG
              c
              chocolatetartguy Oct 6, 2006 01:19 AM

              That sort of describes my toms. When eating out of hand, they seem on the watery side. Since this garden is the first at my new house, I wasn't sure if I had overwatered them. The plants are the healthiest I've ever had. My tomato patch looks like a rain forest. The good news is that my sauces have been very sweet and the toms have been great in salads or drizzled w olive oil.

              1. re: MikeG
                Veggietales Oct 6, 2006 01:54 AM

                In regards to the scallions, yes, they too are from mexico. Price all summer was very high, sometimes supplies would gap also for the wholesale industry.

                Another commodity that is currently being affected by Mexico's bad luck with weather is Asparagus. It is currently being shipped from Peru, quality is fair and price is up.

              2. g
                geekgirl Oct 5, 2006 03:52 AM

                The Central Valley also had poor production due to weather. My home-grown this year almost brought me to tears and I have yet to bite into a delicious tomato. Usually my neighbors send over some, but nothing, zip, nada!

                1. Morton the Mousse Oct 5, 2006 03:32 AM

                  It was a bad year for a lot of things. Stone fruits (particularly apricots) were particularly hard hit. That said, I've bought consistently good tomatoes at my farmers' market all summer. Cherry tomatoes from Vacaville were great in July, heirlooms from Guinda were good in August and dry farm tomatoes from Sebastapol and Santa Cruz were excellent starting in late August and are still going strong (hopefully, this rain wont knock them out). Prices have fluctuated between $2.50 and $3.50/pound which is what I'm used to paying.

                  1. MsDiPesto Oct 5, 2006 02:21 AM

                    This year, I was disappointed with even the nice looking tomatoes from the Farmers Markets. Just not as flavorful as last season, and a bit mealy as well. I went to the Farm market this past weekend, and did not see one tomato I wanted to spend that sort of money for. Season's over, back to cans.

                    1. DanaB Oct 4, 2006 11:50 PM

                      Echo those that blame the hot weater in California during May-July. I literally only had ONE tomato, because it was the only one that set before it was too hot for about 6 weeks for the rest of the plants' blossoms to set. I can only imagine what it did to commercial growers.

                      1. c
                        chocolatetartguy Oct 4, 2006 11:31 PM

                        My backyard tomatoes just started ripening last month. I've made sauce 3-4 times. I think all that hot weather we had in California came at the wrong time. My early Oregon Springs, came first, but some are still ripening. The midterm Black Princes are still coming ripe. I'm worried about my late Yellow Brandywines. There are a lot of big ones, but only a few are ripening and today it rained. I had a bumper crop this year in my new garden.

                        1. DiveFan Oct 4, 2006 04:59 AM

                          Thanks for the background, veggietales!
                          Another supply I forgot to mention are the 'ripe-on-the-vine' tomatoes from the Netherlands - these have also gotten scarse. Their supply IIRC is grown in (mostly?) controlled indoor environments thus assuring a year round supply. They sure must be doing something right in order to supply competitive quality and price.
                          Right now, of course due to supply/demand, Netherlands tomatoes are also priced higher. Those beautiful yellow, orange and red bell peppers are doing OK, though.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: DiveFan
                            coll Oct 4, 2006 10:16 AM

                            The West Coast had the 100 plus degree weather at the same time as the East Coast had lots of rain and even hurricanes in Florida. The tomatoes that should have been ready for harvest/ shipping now don't exist. New Jersey is out of a lot of produce, Florida's not that much better and now the next harvest should be Arizona/Mexico which got some hurricanes too. After that, South America, I wonder how they're doing weather-wise! And of course this will affect the price of canned tomatoes in the coming months.

                            1. re: coll
                              LindaWhit Oct 5, 2006 11:12 PM

                              "And of course this will affect the price of canned tomatoes in the coming months."

                              Hadn't even thought of that. Muir Glen stock-up needed. :-)

                            2. re: DiveFan
                              Robert Lauriston Oct 7, 2006 04:40 PM

                              If you can't find Dutch hothouse tomatoes, substitute brightly colored wax. Same flavor and texture.

                            3. Veggietales Oct 4, 2006 04:41 AM

                              Most conventional supplies come from Mexico and Guatemala. IN the summer that region experienced massive heat waves, tomatoes were cut early from the vine to prevent overripening and actual "cooking" in the fields. Once the heat waves ceased the region got pounded by Hurricanes.

                              The wholesale/restaurant industry is really feeling it in the wallet, prices are 150% more than normal levels this time of year.

                              Of course, short supply, poor quality and high demand are not good ingredients for the end user.

                              WE are hoping to see a drop in pricing in 3 weeks.

                              I cannot speak for locally grown, regional tomatoes.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Veggietales
                                ipsedixit Oct 4, 2006 11:42 PM

                                I heard the tomato shortage (and attendant price increase) in Mexico has resulted in overall adjustment in the inflation forecast and price index for the country.

                                Amazing.

                                See article link:
                                http://www.latimes.com/business/print...

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  Dommy Oct 5, 2006 11:04 PM

                                  Yeah, I read that yesterday... I e-mailed my cousin and she just sent a reponse to say, it's not horrid, but it's definatly put a crimp on the salsa making... :P

                                  --Dommy!

                              2. c
                                ClaireLiz Oct 4, 2006 01:25 AM

                                Well, from growing our own, I can tell you - short and intense tomatoes for us - a glut of beautiful red ripe ones btw July and August and nothing to speak of sicne then. Must be the weather, feh.

                                1. bolivianita Oct 4, 2006 12:29 AM

                                  I too wait all year for that wonderful month of August (I'm in the mid atlantic) when I can eat delicious tomatoes everyday at every meal. It has been a BAD year for tomatoes. The ones I've gotten at the store have never been good and at the farm stand it was hard to find any that were ripe. Had some sucess with the home grown but not until Sept. I guess I am stuck waiting 'til next summer and hoping that whatever kept the good tomatoes away this year doesn't show up again next year.

                                  1. Robert Lauriston Oct 4, 2006 12:28 AM

                                    The weather's gotten colder.

                                    On the other hand, I just came home from the farmers market and ate a couple of perfect tomatoes.

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