Oct 10, 2022 - Energy & Environment

"There's just not enough water": California drought hits grocery stores

Illustration of a hot tomato emoji.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

California's drought and high summer temperatures are making it difficult to grow tomatoes in the Golden State.

The big picture: As a result, grocery prices — already at record highs — could climb even more.

Driving the news: Despite low supply and a substantial increase in prices, production has dropped significantly compared to the beginning of 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • Water availability is the main issue for tomato producers, who are challenged by another year of lower-than-average rainfall and reduced water allocations, the department said.

What they're saying: "There's just not enough water to grow everything that we normally grow," Don Cameron, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, told Reuters.

  • Expected production continues to decrease as the season progresses.

By the numbers: California accounts for roughly 95% of the nation's processed tomato production and about 35% of global production.

Threat level: The ongoing "megadrought" in the Southwest is the first human-driven regional drought on record, studies show, and is affecting water resources in the growing region, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

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