BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – I’m sure you’ve noticed the grocery bill being a little higher and the pain at the pump has been a hot topic as well. One local manufacturing group is feeling the pain as prices increase for one of its main ingredients. We sat down with the CEO of the company that is known for the popular sauce Gia Russa.
The line at the Summer Garden Food Manufacturing plant in Boardman is filled with G Hughes Sugar Free Ketchup. However, this process is looking a little pricier than in previous years.
“They have raised the prices, let me think, 50 percent this last year over the year before and 30 percent the year before,” said Summer Garden Food Manufacturing CEO Tom Zidian.
Zidian says the cost increase comes from the tomato paste the company uses to make the ketchup. He said there are two big factors causing this price increase.
“Both the drought and, probably the biggest part is the drought, but also the energy usage,” Zidian said.
According to Zidian, many farmers are seeing less rain and warmer temperatures, which isn’t good for a tomato plant.
“A lot of people are planting other crops instead of tomatoes, things that use less water,” he said.
Zidian says it’s not just the ketchup that’s dealing with cost increases — their famous sauce brand Gia Russa is experiencing difficulties as well.
“There’s a shortage on natural gas in Europe. So it’s creating a real problem for not only the tomato crop that’s coming,” he said.
Zidian says the war in Ukraine has been a big issue on energy costs, as well as the cost of freight increasing.
“Mainly for the Gia Russa brand, we only use the Italian tomatoes. So we’re going to try to stick with that because, as you see, the shortage on the west coast is also bad,” Zidian said.
So what does this mean for the consumer? Zidian says the company raised prices last year, something he doesn’t want to do again.
“We’re trying to buy other things for less. I mean, glass is going up so we’re hoping that we can hold the prices. Right now we’re holding it to the end of the year and hopefully, we can hold it past that,” Zidian said.
As far as the quality of the tomatoes, Zidian says it looks very good.