Ketchup the next climate change victim, say scientists

Could your favourite sauce be under threat with rising temperatures?

Big Zero Report 2022

If you love some red sauce with your breakfast or burger, you could be disappointed.

That’s because climate change could be having an impact on the yield of tomatoes needed for your daily squeeze.

Researchers at Aarhus University have revealed in a new study that global warming is causing tomato plants stress; affecting the global harvest season.

The report explains that two types of tomatoes are cultivated for consumption – one is fresh tomato and the other is processing tomato, used for paste, ketchup and canned tomatoes.

Italy, China and California are the most prominent places for producing processing tomatoes – responsible for two thirds of global production – and are all at risk to rising temperatures.

The study analysed different climate scenarios to understand how the tomato harvest would be impacted – finding that under the worst-case scenario, between 2050 and 2100, the harvest would halve.

This scenario would see temperatures jump by 2.6°C between 2040 and 2069 – and then 5°C for the next 30 years – from a baseline of 1980 to 2009.

In this context, tomato farming yields would drop from the current 14 million tonnes each year to less than seven million tonnes.

The study states: “All crops have an optimal temperature during which development is optimal. However, above this threshold temperature there is an acceleration in the senescence processes that has a negative impact on yield.

“The future viability of processing tomato production is different for each region. China will be one of the regions that is projected to be able to maintain a viable production of processing tomatoes.

“California and Italy will be negatively impacted by the projected environmental changes.”

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