"There's just not enough water": California drought hits grocery stores
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.
- In August, the Department of Agriculture reduced its forecast of California's tomato production for the year to 10.5 million tons from the 12.2 million tons predicted in January.
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.
- Last year, Lake Mead in Nevada hit a record low, which helped to trigger the first federal "water shortage" declaration for the Colorado River basin. This set off water allocation reductions to several states.
- Within the context of the broader drought, California is now in its driest three-year period on record, the Los Angeles Times reports.