Drought and other factors in California are dragging down tomato crops and driving up the cost of ketchup and other tomato-based foods.
A leading tomato processor is charging up to 80% more for tomato paste over last year. He blames the situation mostly on drought: “The water is either too expensive or just not available at any cost,” he told Bloomberg.
As a result, retail prices for tomato sauce are up 17% over last year, and for ketchup, up 23%, according to IRI statistics quoted in the New York Post.
Inflation is also a factor, for farm necessities like fuel and fertilizer. But the heat wave that has caused record-setting wildfires in California is suppressing water supplies and forcing farmers to cut back on their planted acreage.
California grows an estimated 12.7 million tons of tomatoes annually, including 95% of all U.S.-grown tomatoes used for further processing.