Florida Frost Heats Up Midwest Produce Prices

Tomato Prices Skyrocket

Chilly winter weather in Florida is driving up prices for produce at Hoosier grocery stores and across the country.

Bell peppers, squash, egg plant and especially tomatoes have seen a rise in recent weeks, affecting weekly grocery bills, along with businesses that rely on the vegetable staples, 6News' Stacia Matthews reported.

Agostino's Italian Cuisine downtown buys 40 pounds of tomatoes each week for pizza sauce, sandwiches and salads. Owner Agostino Imbimbo said he noticed the price jump on last week's bill.

"Nobody told me nothing. I see the order on the last bill. It's increased," he said. "It's very hard to order like this. The price is too expensive."

Typically, a 25-pound box of tomatoes costs $12, but prices have nearly tripled to $35.

Downtown tomato repacker Ray & Mascari Inc. said it has switched from Florida to Mexico to meet demand for customers.

"Demand seems to be slowing down with the prices now, but there's still not enough tomatoes to supply," said owner Rocky Ray.

He said he expects the market to catch up when Florida farmers harvest a new crop in April.

"Prices could come down. We could have so many tomatoes then and that's the problem. They're all going to come on at once," Ray said. "We're going to have so many tomatoes they'll be putting three slices on your sandwiches."

Until then, some fast food chains have already made adjustments to deal with the higher prices. Both Wendy's and Burger King said they will hold the tomato unless a customer specifically asks for it.