Prices for Mexican tomatoes expected to increase 40% to 85% with new tariff
No matter how you slice it, the great debate as to whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is always on the chopping block. Buzz60's Sean Dowling has more. Buzz60
Whether you consider it a fruit or a vegetable, prices for fresh tomatoes are likely to skyrocket.
On Tuesday, the Commerce Department announced the termination of the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico.
This means the U.S. will impose a 17.5% tariff on imported Mexican tomatoes, a move that experts say may lead to shortages and price hikes.
According to estimates from Arizona State University, consumers could pay 40% to 85% more for vine-ripe and other fresh tomatoes.
Prices could rise 40% from May to December, according to the university analysis by economists led by Timothy Richards, the Morrison chair of agribusiness. During the cooler months, when there are fewer domestic supplies of tomatoes, prices could escalate up to 85%, according to the estimate.
Dow ends 473 points lower: Its worst day since January, as trade fears grow
The prices of canned tomatoes and those that end up in sauces wouldn't be nearly as affected because of warmer-weather growing seasons in California and many other states, Richards said.
The Commerce Department says it began negotiating with Mexico in January 2018, yet the two sides haven't reached an agreement.
Want news from USA TODAY on WhatsApp? Click this link on your mobile device to get started
“The Department of Commerce remains committed to ensuring that American domestic industries are protected from unfair trading practices,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a statement. “We remain optimistic that there will be a negotiated solution.”
After the Commerce Department announced it would re-impose anti-dumping duties on Mexican imports Tuesday, Mexico's Economy Department said U.S. consumers could pay 38% to 70% more for tomatoes.
The tariffs could be refunded if a revised agreement is reached, according to the Commerce Department's statement.
Contributing: Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic; Associated Press
Follow Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko