BBC Breakfast: Carol warns Louise about her tomatoes
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Tinned tomatoes are usually found in steel cans in British supermarkets. But a shortage of steel sheets might mean producers will be forced to leave tomatoes rotting in fields this summer.
Italy is one of the world’s top tomato producers.
The country churns out about five million tonnes of processed tomatoes a year.
This means it is second only to California.
California produces about 10 million tonnes of tomatoes a year, but these are packaged differently to Italian tomatoes.
Californian tomatoes are packaged in cartons and there is a big focus on concentrates, such as tomato paste, in the US.
Tomato paste does not need to be canned.
However, Italian tomatoes are almost all canned before being divided into categories.
The categories include peeled, chopped, diced, and crushed.
The red fruits are harvested in Italy from July to September and need to be canned no more than 36 hours after they are picked.
But with a shortage of cans, Italian tomatoes will unfortunately have to be thrown out.
Italian tinned tomatoes are sold in British supermarkets, but due to this shortage, Britons may not be able to get their hands on them this summer.
Natasha Linhart, chief executive officer of Atlante, which supplies Italian fine-food retailers in several markets including the US, UK, India, Japan, and Canada, commented on the shortage.
She said: “We cannot find cans. Big multinationals are defaulting on their contracts and the price of cans has increased by more than three times.
“We don’t know how long this shortage will last, there is no end of the tunnel in sight.”
The shortage is due to a demand for cans by China, whose economy recovered sooner than the rest of the world.
This means that steel suppliers are not immediately able to deliver to European nations.
However, tinned tomatoes are not the only product low in supplies this summer.
Ice cream fans may have to do without Cadbury 99 flakes in the coming weeks, after a surge in demand has led to a shortage of the iconic chocolate toppings.
With the easing of lockdown restrictions, sales of the chocolate topped ice cream have gone through the roof, leaving Cadbury struggling to meet demand.
Last month, Cadbury’s owner Modelez said: “We are seeing a recent increase in demand for our Cadbury 99 Flake in the UK and Ireland that we had not expected.”
While unable to say how long the shortage may last, the company added: “The product is still available to order and we’re continuing to work closely with our customers.”
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