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Spaghetti Sauce Is Under Threat as Water Crisis Slams Tomatoes

Aug. 13, 2022, 12:45 PM

Tomatoes are getting squeezed.

California leads the world in production of processing tomatoes — the variety that gets canned and used in commercial kitchens to make some of the most popular foods. The problem is the worst droughtin 1,200 years is forcing farmers to grapple with a water crisis that’s undermining the crop, threatening to further push up prices from salsa to spaghetti sauce.

“We desperately need rain,” Mike Montna, head of the California Tomato Growers Association, said in an interview. “We are getting to a point where we don’t have inventory left to keep fulfilling the market demand.”

Bruce Rominger, a fifth-generation farmer, slashed rice sowing by 90% to make room for tomatoes.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Lack of water is shrinking production ...