Summer storms have sliced into Florida’s tomato crop, sending prices soaring at grocery stores and restaurants all over the country.
The tomato crop in Gadsden was slashed in half by the soggy summer, but farmers there aren't seeing red. They're seeing plenty of green.
At Bianca's Pizza and Pasta, they slice up plenty of fresh tomatoes, but they're wincing at the price, which has tripled in the past few weeks.
Hakan Egri says, "We used to pay $8. Now it's coming up to $26, and I don't understand the reason."
Workers can't pick tomatoes fast enough to satisfy the appetite of Americans in the midst of a nationwide tomato shortage. Wind and rain cut the crop in half, but tomatoes are selling for ten times what they did this spring: $3 a box then, $30 a box now.
Will Maxwell, Tomato Grower, says, "Spring was the worst crop I've ever grown, price-wise, that I've ever harvested and fall's crop is the highest price we've ever gotten."
The Gadsden Tomato Company is churning out 1.1 million pounds of tomatoes a day at $30 a box. Fast food chains and super stores are literally begging for more.
Storm damage in Central Florida and heavy rains in California mean Gadsden County is turning out the only tomatoes in the country right now.
Graves Williams, Gadsden Tomato Company, says, "It's the biggest demand we've ever had in the 22 years we've been here. Right now, I would say that Gadsden County is trying to feed the United States and there is no way possible we can feed the United States."
So in the wacky world of supply and demand, Gadsden County tomato growers are raking it in right now. But they know it's only temporary.
A spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Agriculture reassures consumers that some tomatoes from Central Florida will hit the market in about six weeks, and that should bring prices back down.
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