The Tomato Magazine
ORLANDO, Fla.After enduring the wrath of four devastating hurricanes that wreaked catastrophic damage to the state's tomato crop, Florida tomatoes are back. And, they are getting close to normal volumes now, according to shipment data from the Florida Tomato Committee, a tomato marketing organization, which reported shipments last week at 75 percent of what they are for the week, historically. It was only two weeks ago that tomato growers in Florida were packing 35 percent of what is typical for the season. Shipments are increasing steadily; building up to normal volumes by the third week of December, the Committee anticipates.
"Although in Florida, we have seen yields almost half of what they should be, the tomato quality is remarkably good and our supplies are increasing steadily," said Reggie Brown, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee. "We would expect prices to begin to respond to the supply accordingly in the next two to three weeks."
This is good news for supermarket shoppers, 80 percent of whom purchase tomatoes several times a month, with 42 percent of consumers purchasing tomatoes on a weekly basis. With an annual average national contribution of more than 7.5 percent to total produce department dollar sales, the tomato category packs a powerful punch for the produce department.
According to Fresh Facts supermarket scanner data from the Perishables Group, the national average retail price per pound for round field tomatoes is normally about $2 in the produce department.
The damage to Florida's tomato crop, along with unseasonably wet weather in Mexico, has made for a very unique situation in the U.S. To date this season (as of November 28), Florida tomato growers have packed about 50 percent of the total packed last year during same time period.
"With this unusual weather phenomenon, we have truly seen trying times here in Florida - the likes of which we hope not ever see again," offered Brown, adding, "We certainly appreciate the support of our customers as we pick ourselves up from the aftermath of these devastating hurricanes."
With almost every southern county in the state cultivating
tomatoes, Florida produces virtually all the fresh-market, field-grown
tomatoes in the U.S. from October through June each year, and accounts
for about 50 percent of all fresh tomatoes produced domestically.
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