Tomato Shortage Affecting West Texas Businesses

by Diane Tuazon
NewsWest 9

WEST TEXAS - Tomatoes are a popular ingredient in most diets.

"You can't have a salad without tomatoes," Kokes Bernal, with Super Mercado, said.

Thanks to the freezing, cold temperatures that hit the country recently there aren't enough tomatoes to meet demand.

"Florida has been devastated with the freezing weather. They normally provide 60% of tomatoes to the United States. When that happened businesses were confronted with two choices, basically to raise the prices or take tomatoes off products," Craig Van Amburgh, with CVA Advertising and Marketing, said.

Even local grocery stores are seeing a change in the way their customers shop.

"People aren't buying as much, but they are still buying. It's a shortage in U.S. and it's affecting everyone," Bernal said.

There are still plenty of tomatoes in stores, but consumers will be paying three times as much more for them at least for the next 6 weeks.

"What we have to pay, you as consumers will have to pay. If they increase prices, we'll increase prices. We have to make up for it somehow," Bernal said.

However that's not the case for some businesses. The owners of restaurants like Rosa's Cafe or Texas Burger say they aren't taking the tomato shortage out on their customers.

"We're very fortunate to have great customers and they have expectations for us, so we'll continue to serve tomatoes in our meals without raising prices," Van Amburgh said.

Some businesses believe that raising prices on their most loyal customers just doesn't seem fair.

"If we were to raise prices on every ingredient that becomes a shortage, we'd be doing it all the time, and that doesn't make sense," Van Amburgh said.