Tomato Products Like Ketchup and Pasta Sauce May Be in Short Supply Soon 

Sep 07, 2022

Dealing with food shortages isn’t anything new these days, and now, we’ll be adding tomatoes to the mix. Tomatoes are a versatile fruit staple in many people’s diets. But you might have trouble finding them in your local grocery store soon.

Why Are Tomatoes in Short Supply?

California is the world leader in tomato processing. It is also responsible for 25% of the world’s tomato growth.

Unfortunately, California is facing the worst drought the area has faced in the past 1,000 years.

Californians’ wells are drying up, and farmers have restrictions on their groundwater use.

Besides the drought and rising temperatures, farmers face other pressures threatening their crop production. Fuel costs have skyrocketed. They’re having trouble finding labor, and fertilizer costs have increased.

Ten years ago, it only cost farmers about $2,800 to grow and harvest tomato crops. Today, that cost has almost doubled to $4,800.

Not only that, but the demand for tomatoes has gone up. California’s tomato processors have seen a 10% increase in demand since last year.

What Does The Tomato Shortage Mean for You?

With the increase in demand and the shortage of tomatoes, consumers may soon be missing their tomatoes. What exactly does this all mean?

It will be harder to find tomatoes and tomato products in stores. This includes things like ketchup, pasta sauce, and tomato sauce.

It also means that the price for these products will go up. In fact, tomato inflation is expected to far outpace inflation of other foods in the U.S.

Market research shows a 13% increase in price for salsa and a 23% increase for ketchup in the past year alone. With the shortages, the costs are only going to continue to rise.

How Will Farmers Deal With Tomato Shortage?


Tomato Shortage


Almost all farmers in California are dealing with severe drought conditions. 40% of the state of California is considered under extreme drought.

Drought has been causing issues with tomato harvesting over the last several years. But, this year, it’s worse. Farmers don’t have the inventory to fulfill demand. What tomatoes are growing are coming out smaller.

Many farmers are cutting down on their other crops to create more room for tomato crops.

Some companies, like Heinz, have taken preventative measures to ensure they still have their product. To maintain production, Heinz is sourcing tomatoes from other regions. They are also breeding new tomato seeds with stronger resistance to climate troubles.

Tomato shortages are unfortunate for both consumers and farmers alike. Tomatoes are a staple in many consumers’ diets, so the shortage and price increase will be hard on many people, not to mention abundant on restaurant menus. Farmers are struggling even more because their yield is down, but their cost is up. With droughts and extreme heat becoming all too common year after year, we’re going to have to think of new ways to keep our crop production thriving in the future.

What Can Restaurant Owners Do? Menu Redevelopment is Key.

Operators must consider building the cost of free condiments into their menu prices. Also, given these new realities, it’s wise to revisit your menu prices where tomato products are used. If you need professional help in redeveloping your menu, please reach out to Synergy.