Tomato prices expected to rise with Mexico imports tariff

US reinstates 17.5% tariff on Mexico-grown tomatoes after pact withdrawal

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter, Adam B. Higgins - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - You can expect to pay more for your tacos and salads soon after the U.S. withdrew from a trade pact with Mexico and slapped a 17.5 percent tariff on tomato imports.

In the kitchen at Pete's Tako House, lunch staff was busy dicing tomatoes for the salsas, pico de gallo and tacos.

"We go through six to eight cases a day," said owner Pete Rios.

Rios is now waiting to see how much impact the tomato tariff will have on his bottom line.

"Hopefully, it doesn't last too long," he said. "Hopefully, we'll not have to pass the cost along to our customers."

To protect Florida growers who've alleged Mexico has been dumping unfairly priced tomatoes on the market, the U.S. announced it was reopening its investigation and withdrawing from the 2013 suspension agreement, in which Mexican growers promised to sell tomatoes at fair prices. The end of pact triggered reinstating the 1996 17.5 percent tariff.

"We will feel it, yeah," said Nando Gonzalez, of River City Produce. "Anytime there's a tariff or tax, you feel it. But I don't think it's going to be the monster effect, unless the markets dictate that. 

The market laws of supply and demand will impact prices.

As for what consumers can expect to see, a study from Arizona State University predicted a price increase from 38 percent to as high as 70 percent. 

Talks are continuing, and both Gonzalez and Rios are hoping an agreement can still be reached.

In the meantime, pricier tomatoes are ripening on the vine.

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