Modesto-area tomato crop bound for your pasta, fries

Fear not, pizza and pasta lovers. Another summer's worth of tomatoes is making its way through canneries in the Modesto area.

Stanislaus Food Products, which makes sauces and other tomato products for Italian restaurants, is getting a steady stream of trucks from the fields each day.

The same goes for the ConAgra Foods cannery in Oakdale, Escalon Premier Brands in Escalon, and the Morning Star and Ingomar plants in Los Banos.

About 13.3 million tons of processing tomatoes will be harvested statewide this year, up from 11.8 million in 2008, according to the California Tomato Growers Association.

Growers are getting $80 a ton, up from $70 last year and $63 in 2007. The association told processors that the increases were needed to cover their production costs.

Fresno County leads the state in processing-tomato acreage. San Joaquin County is second, Merced sixth and Stanislaus ninth.

California leads the nation in the production of cannery tomatoes. They go into paste, sauces, ketchup, salsa, soups and a host of other products.

The crop is distinct from fresh-market tomatoes, which fetch a much higher price per ton but are not as extensively planted.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at or 578-2385.