How common are tomatoes in Europe

Overview world market tomatoes

In Europe, the supply of unlit cultivation from the Netherlands and Belgium is decreasing. Imported tomatoes are currently arriving on the market again, e.g. from Spain, where the cultivation area has continued to decline, as well as from Morocco and Turkey. In South Africa, due to the weather conditions that put prices under pressure, many tomatoes came onto the market at the same time in a short time. In North America, Florida saw an increase in domestic supply, and in China, greenhouses started planting and harvesting two months earlier as the field tomato harvest declined.

Netherlands and Belgium: gray season for tomatoes
The Dutch and Belgian seasons are coming to an end for the unlit cultivation. The lighted extension has been going on for a while. In the meantime, imported tomatoes also arrive here.

The domestic season was bad for a long time, and producers and dealers were faced with a 'gray' season. Corona caused a shock wave and hamster effect in the spring, but that quickly passed. After that, it remained difficult, and it was mainly the catering and food service producers who struggled to get rid of their product at good prices, with the beefsteak tomatoes and loose tomatoes of the larger caliber being at the fore.

There appeared to be a reversal in prices in late August / early September and the average price fell slightly from the five-year average. However, prices were better in September and October, for both vine tomatoes and loose tomatoes, and the vine tomatoes seem to have performed slightly better than the loose tomatoes throughout the season.

The import season in the Netherlands and Belgium has started quietly in recent weeks, with a further decline in tomato acreage in Spain and Morocco as an increasingly important player, e.g. for snack tomatoes, where there are different lines with important players on the market. The delivery of tomatoes from Spain always starts later than e.g. cucumbers and peppers.

Germany: Price pressure from cheap imports
There has been some movement in supply lately, partly due to falling supply from the Netherlands and Belgium. Meanwhile, the supply from Turkey, Morocco and Spain only increased. These are usually cheaper than the Central European goods, which is why these prices have also been adjusted downwards. The lower quality also led to a negative price development.

The harvest is also still going on in the local greenhouses, although the supply from German cultivation is still in stark contrast to that from neighboring countries. However, significant investments are being made in domestic tomato cultivation. A southern German cultivation company that also supplies retailers recently put a state-of-the-art greenhouse complex with LED lighting into operation. Last month, the first tomatoes were harvested in this illuminated greenhouse.

France: Falling prices for loose tomatoes
October was relatively calm in terms of sales. In France there was sufficient production at a reasonably good price, so little competition from imports, especially for vine tomatoes. The situation is also calm with the loose tomatoes. There are French tomatoes, but Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland are still on the market. Loose tomato prices are still falling. Spain and Morocco are slowly entering the market. As for the consumption of tomatoes in general, it is quite low. First of all because summer has ended, because when winter comes people will eat less tomatoes, but also because of the closure of restaurants in France. Last week the market was more dynamic after the president announced a second lockdown in his speech, but that spike in consumption quickly declined again.

Italy: Demand exceeds supply due to low harvest
Half of the Italian tomatoes come from the island of Sicily. Due to the coronavirus, the demand in Italy is currently greater than the supply of tomatoes, which is due to the low yields of the Italian harvest. The disappointing yields can be attributed to the weather conditions and a number of diseases within tomato cultivation, such as TBRFV, which contributes to the scarce availability of large tomatoes in particular. In some areas the production deficit is more than 40-50%.

As for the Pomodori tomatoes, especially in Puglia and Campania, industries have been closed prematurely due to lack of raw material. The yields were below average due to climatic problems. In northern Italy there was a slight decrease in the production volume of good quality loose tomatoes. In the processed products segment, a twofold situation arose during the pandemic: the retail sector increased sales with high prices and high demand, while the catering market collapsed dramatically. Now there are no more stocks. In addition, the 2020/21 season will have a lower volume compared to the 2019/20 season. Because of this, the retail sector is anticipating a price increase.

Spain: Prices are falling due to competition from Morocco
The tomato acreage in Almería has decreased again and confirms the downward trend of recent years. The decrease in tomato production could be around 20% compared to last year, especially for loose tomatoes. The rise in production costs, the increase in pests, and prices with tight profit margins were the main drivers for Almeria farmers to focus more on other products, such as peppers and zucchini, whose production costs are much lower. Tomato prices remained high through week 44, as did prices of other vegetables, with the exception of eggplant. From week 45, prices gradually began to fall, coinciding with the November 1st holiday and the increase in production due to the rise in temperature. In about two to three weeks, large volumes from Morocco will hit the market and there will be more competition for Spanish tomatoes.

So far the prices for vine tomatoes have been very high and tomato specialties were paid 30% more than in the previous season. The exception is the loose tomato, where prices are lower. This tomato is produced a lot in Morocco and Spain has lost a lot of market share in Europe in recent years. Fortunately, despite increasing competition in Morocco, there is no constant production of plums, grapes and other types of tomatoes, as well as other products such as peppers and zucchini, where Spain still dominates. The pandemic appears to be having a good impact on the consumption of tomatoes and other vegetables.

Turkey: Price currently slightly higher than last year
Around 550,000 tons of tomatoes are exported annually. The season started just two weeks ago in the Fethiye region in the south-west of the country. This is later than normal due to rainfall. The forecast shows that an increase of 20-30% is expected for tomatoes. Larger quantities with higher prices are expected around Christmas. At the moment the quality is not yet optimal. The prices are a little higher than last year, but then it is an increase of only 5-10%. However, due to currency developments, export prices should be 10% lower than in previous years. The cheaper tomatoes are mainly the result of larger quantities.

For the Turks, the market is clearly divided into two parts, with well-paying but demanding markets on the one hand and less-paying but less critical markets on the other. The former are primarily markets such as Germany, Poland, the Baltic States, Belarus, Russia, Great Britain and most other European countries. Lower quality often goes to Romania, Iraq, the Czech Republic and the Ukraine.

South Africa: Tomato supply led to falling prices
The South African winter slowed the ripening of tomatoes, but due to the recent heat, tomatoes have ripened at the same time everywhere and are now coming onto the market in large quantities. This put prices under pressure and the market price fell by a third. Supply rose 46% over the past week, but traders say this influx appears to be well absorbed.

During the lockdown, prices were at a high level. The average market price is now ZAR 7.30 (EUR 0.38) per kilogram. In general, summer demand in the market is strong, but not as expected.

South African tomato growers still face a number of disease control challenges. The tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) in particular has become a serious pest in recent years (it was previously unknown in the country). The white fly also plagues the tomatoes. Because of these diseases, production has become much more difficult than it used to be. Especially for the small producers who have difficulties in setting up control programs that alternate the means of control in order to counteract resistance in the tomato leaf miner.

United States: Supply from Florida is increasing
Domestic delivery of tomatoes from Florida has started. The supply is stable and began about 10 days ago in central and south Florida. "Yields are pretty average for the fall," said a local tomato grower. The yields are a little better than last year. Traditionally, tomato growing in late October and early November is always in decline due to weather conditions, but yields seem to be improving from week to week. This farmer therefore expects to harvest 4-5% more tomatoes from his acreage. Some labor shortages due to the coronavirus have been feared, but so far it doesn't seem that bad. It was harvested on time. Other challenges are mainly the search for new varieties that are more resistant to the diseases that plague the tomato.

California closes the season, with only Canadian greenhouse cultivation and a modest harvest from Mexico playing a role. However, the latter often tend to return to the market with large quantities of tomatoes in January.

Retail demand is stable at the moment, but a few varieties such as loose tomatoes and roma tomatoes are mainly intended for the food service sector and it is very unclear how the market will develop. This is because the measures vary from state to state. So far people see that the price is good, comparable to last year's, but they hold back. It is also mainly the coronavirus that the sector is facing with suspicion. The course of the season is now largely determined by whether or not certain actions are carried out.

China: Rising prices in the market, increase in greenhouse cultivation
The coronavirus had a big impact on tomato production in China, but it was well under control in the country. Since May the market has normalized again and more consumers are paying attention to the quality of the food. The online sales of tomatoes increased, especially those in the luxury segment, such as cherry tomatoes. Special attention was then paid to this sales channel.

The price is generally higher than in previous years. This is due to the poor weather conditions in July and August. As a result, field tomato yields fell sharply. As a result, the supply is lower compared to the relatively stable demand, which has led to higher prices. Due to the current high demand, many greenhouse growers started planting two months earlier than last year and the harvest took place in October instead of September. It is expected to be able to supply the market with tomatoes for nine months. The Chinese government plans to continue promoting greenhouse cultivation in China in the coming years as crop yields are unsafe due to weather conditions and the pandemic.

Australia: Good market for tomatoes during the pandemic
In Australia, Sydney Markets wrote in a recent weekly market report that tomatoes are still essential on most households' shopping lists during the pandemic, as vegetable growers have myriad varieties of tomatoes on offer. Cherry tomatoes in particular did well at $ 2- $ 2.50 a bowl. While special varieties such as kumatoes cost $ 4-6 per bowl or the tomato mix, depending on the size of the bowl, cost $ 4-8.

New Zealand: Price hit record high in August
New Zealand tomato prices rose to a record high in August, with a weighted average price of NZD 13.65 / kg (€ 7.79), according to Stats NZ. The report stated that this was due to a supply shortage due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus, which means that many growers have delayed or reduced the replanting of tomato crops at this point. About 40-50 percent of the tomatoes are sold to independent grocery stores, cafes and restaurants that failed to open during COVID-19 alert levels 3 and 4 in April. Meanwhile, Tomatoes NZ has also reported that fresh imports in 2019, at 175 tons, were significantly lower than the 524 tons the year before.

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