Tomato industry recovering from salmonella scare

MANATEE —On the rebound from a salmonella scare last spring, local tomato growers have a fresh crop going to market. But some are more optimistic than others about this tomato season.

Bob Spencer of West Coast Tomato said the increased supply since the spring has dropped prices for consumers, encouraging them to buy tomatoes.

Consumer confidence was crippled by the salmonella scare initially blamed on tomatoes. The Food and Drug Administration later discovered salmonella in peppers from Mexico, but only after the Florida tomato industry lost millions of dollars.

We’re hoping we’re completely over the scare we went through this spring,” Spencer said. “It’s nowhere near the problem we were facing.”

The supply will increase more when Mexican-grown tomatoes boost the volume until March, said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange.

“It creates price depression when we have volume. This is really the only significant volume we’ve had since May or June as an industry,” he said.

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