By Clint Thompson
Florida’s tomato season is nearing an end this year. While the crop struggled amid the coronavirus pandemic, growers were able to finish production amid a supply shortage, specifically with pallets.
But the fall crop is just around the corner. That is a concern for Bob Spencer, President of West Coast Tomato in Palmetto, Florida.
“We never experienced the shortage of pallets like we’re experiencing now. I’m just glad we’re ending our season here in the next couple of weeks. It’s touch and go. We’ve been able to keep production going, but it’s one of those things you never thought about, pallets. There were always just trucks pulling in, dropping them off. The pricing has gone up,” Spencer said. “It’s just a unique time we’re in now. That’s the beauty of business, you never know what you’re going to deal with.
“I’m hoping by the fall, this whole wood situation and pallets will have calm down a little bit.”
Pallets are just one input cost that have spiked this year and that are in low supply.
“With fuel going up dramatically, it has an impact on our customers and just getting trucks. There’s been so much product of all different varieties moving across the United States, and there’s a shortage of trucks. That price has gone up and that’s a direct reflection in our customers. They’re paying probably 30% to 40% more to take a load of tomatoes from Florida to New York. That ends up impacting the retail price,” Spencer said.