Tomato prices soar across the country |

Tomato prices soar across the country

Cory McConnell

Tomato, tomahto. Vegetable or fruit. There’s at least one thing tomato lovers can agree on these days – the juicy little red orbs are as expensive as ever.

In much of the country, tomatoes are selling for around $4 a pound at grocery stores, and some restaurateurs are scaling back their usage of the produce in several dishes. Last year at this time, retail prices ran from $1.50 a pound to $2.50.

The rapid succession of hurricanes that rambled through Florida this summer ravaged much of the state’s tomato crop, dropping supplies dramatically. This time of year, Florida supplies about 57 percent of the U.S. fresh tomato supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

California’s tomato crops, which generally produce about 20 percent of the nation’s supply in November, also suffered from some damaging floods earlier this year.

At the Round Hill Safeway, manager Dave Rouse said tomato prices had hit $3.99 a pound for non-club members.

“That’s way up – it’s more than double,” Rouse said.

A manager of Albertsons on Al Tahoe Boulevard said tomato prices at his store hadn’t changed.

But at Taqueria Jalisco, owner Claudia Andersen said the price of a case of tomatoes jumped $25 last week. Despite the increase, Andersen said the restaurant was not cutting down on the amount of tomatoes it uses and wasn’t planning to raise prices.

In response to the cost increase, some fast-food chains in the Fallon area are posting signs at drive-thru windows warning of thinner tomato slices in burgers and sandwiches.

The manager of one fast-food outlet said she’s been ordering smaller tomato shipments lately because, aside from being expensive, they’re lower quality and spoil faster.

– Elaine Goodman and Tim Parsons contributed to this report.

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