WPTC forecast reduced to 38.4 million mT as processors face global water and heat challenges
As the 2022 tomato processing season gets its start, countries around the world are experiencing difficulties resulting primarily from water and weather challenges. Farmers and processors alike are all too familiar with adapting to new adverse conditions and continue to do so. Spring crop intentions were initially 39.7 million mT but have since been reduced to 38.4 million mT, a reduction from the 2021 crop of 39.2 million mT.
During the growing season, several countries dealt with poor weather. France and Greece experienced several hailstorms, Italy and Spain contended with heatwaves, and Turkey had a cooler growing season with rain. As we have seen, the top 10 processing countries account for 84.5% of total global production. With California, China, Italy, Spain, and Turkey still leading the industry in production, even minor declines in growing and harvesting conditions can affect global production numbers.
France’s heatwave contributed to early ripening of the fruit, causing two processors to begin production ahead of schedule. The heat remains France’s primary concern due to flower abortion and blossom end rot. Water availability is positive and harvesting in the south is expected to begin at the beginning of August.
Hungary similarly experienced record high temperatures and no rain during the growing season, leading to concern for water availability. With fields facing significant water deficiency, Hungary has reduced its production forecast.
Northern Italy began production on July 18th. Heatwaves, again, caused flower abortion, reducing yields for later in the season. Water availability remains a concern with irrigation from wells being difficult and expensive. Thus far their production has positive quality, and their forecast remains at 2.75 million mT.
Southern Italy also experienced elevated temperatures. Water availability is good, and the processing season began early with quality being positive. Gas prices are also a serious concern as many factories do not have a fixed price contract.
Temperatures in Portugal hit 45 degrees Celsius and will affect yields. Production is expected to start at the beginning of August and their forecast remains at 1.4 million mT.
Tunisia is also experiencing water shortages and extreme heat, with only 332,315 tonnes having been processed, a decrease of 58% from the same time last year. Due to low yields, the forecast has been reduced from 850,000 to 600,000 tonnes.
Ukraine expects a crop of 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes; however, Russian occupation of production land presents a unique and difficult challenge. The factory where paste is stocked is currently occupied by Russian forces and access to product is currently not possible.
Overall, as countries around the world continue to work through their various challenges, we expect production to remain strong, albeit less than expected at the beginning of the year. Higher input costs such as gas, water, and labor have put more pressure on processors. With the season still in its early stages, weather and water will continue to be pressing issues, which processors are tackling well.
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