Why the price of produce is about to go up

Why the price of produce is about to go up

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The price you pay for produce could be going up thanks to an active hurricane season.

"These are $6 a box tomatoes. Now they're $23. We're at triple the price," said Beau Blalock, Vice President of Gulf Coast Produce. "Florida supplies, at this time of the year, a bulk of the tomatoes for the country."

According to Blalock, the farms that supply the tomatoes were devastated by Hurricane Irma. Now, the supply of tomatoes is having to be supplemented more from Mexico. But even that plan hit a speed bump when the Mexican suppliers were hit with a destructive freeze, zapping what they could offer to produce buyers.

"They got hit bad. So now instead of sending us these for Roma tomatoes out of Mexico, they're sending us these. Same situation," said Blalock while holding up a ripe red tomato and a green tomato.

This price hike doesn't just affect wholesale produce companies like Gulf Coast Produce. That rate is passed on to the consumer, both in grocery stores and restaurants.

"If you had dollar tomatoes at the beginning of the week, they're not that anymore. You're going to start seeing three and four dollar tomatoes," said Blalock.

Blalock believes you could start noticing restaurants rationing their tomato supply over the next several weeks until this price hike ends.

"If you're not there yet, you're about to be in a situation where you go into a restaurant and they say, 'Do you want tomato on your burger? Do you want tomatoes on your salad?'" Beau Blalock said.

Blalock expects this tomato supply problem will likely last through the middle of January.

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