Tomato, to-mah-to – however you say it, poor weather has caused them to increase exorbitantly in price, and it’s changing the way people eat at Gannon University.
Due to poor weather conditions in growing areas, Metz & Associates Ltd. has opted to remove all tomatoes from grab-and-go salads, the salad bar and the grill area in the main cafeteria.
“We have been trying to work with it on a weekly basis without asking to raise pricing,” said Pete Mannarelli, general manager of Metz & Associates Ltd.
Mannarelli said he was paying $18.75 for a case of tomatoes in September. When a freeze in the produce-growing regions in California, Florida and Texas caused supply to go down and prices to go up, the cost of a case of tomatoes increased to as much as $65. Additionally, both romaine lettuce and peppers have more than doubled in price per case.
“Already, chopped lettuce has not been raised as much as cases of iceberg lettuce – that is our standard lettuce that is purchased – so I have been purchasing that,” Mannarelli said.
Other produce items, like zucchini, squash and eggplant have also been in short supply recently, Mannarelli said – and the quality of the produce grown in the affected areas is of lower quality.
The shortage is expected to continue through April.
Despite the changes, Mannarelli said he hasn’t heard any complaints from customers.
“I know the grocery stores have raised prices significantly and some restaurants have taken some of the items off their selection completely,” he said. “Hopefully prices will be more stable soon.”