With the price of raw tomatoes expected to increase, processors around the world continue to face challenges from new costs and shifts in demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, processors have published intentions to increase total production by 1% for this coming season.
While the US faces a notable increase in raw tomato prices from the averages over the last three years, (from $88.2/mT to $93.2/mT), other countries face similar, if not worse, cost increases. China will experience an increase of their raw tomato price from $63/mT to $72/mT, while Italy expects an 8% increase, Spain an 11% increase, and Portugal a 9% increase. Europe as a whole will, on average, see a 7% increase compared to 2020. They expect to see a 10% increase compared for the average of the three prior seasons with the average cost increasing from 78€ to 84€ per mT.
As planting begins around the world, many countries are dealing with challenges relating to weather and access to water. In Southern Italy, temperatures remained low at the beginning of transplanting but when conditions improved, they suspended planting operations for a week. With adequate access to water from the Occhito Dam, their forecast remains at 2.5 million mT in the South but could increase to 2.7 million mT.
WPTC Graph – Evolution of global processing
In Northern Italy, contracts have increased 3.9% and, responding to market demand, the organic crop now represents 10.5% of total planted surfaces. With some difficulties being presented due to significant rain and snow between November and January and little to no rain in February and March, farmers may be forced to irrigate before transplanting. The North expects to be on par with 2020 levels of 2.8 million mT, leaving the total country with 5.3 million mT.
Water availability has proven to be challenging in Spain’s Andalusia region; however, water in Extremadura is sufficient. Processors expect to produce 2.9 million mT.
Turkey has reduced production intentions to 2.1 million mT with farmers hesitating to plant due to the poor spot market in 2020.
France has noticeably increased production of organic tomatoes, now making up 22% of total surfaces planted compared to 16% in 2020. The country expects an 8-10% increase in contract pricing for their tomatoes in 2021.
Chinese tomato crops are anticipated to stay on the same level as 2020, at 4.8 million mT. Portugal also expects the same forecast as 2020, at 1.4 million mT.
Overall, conditions and production expectations are on similar levels as 2020, provided the planting seasons enjoy good weather and water supply.
WPTC’s forecast includes 12.1 for California, which may be optimistic. New California forecast expected at the end of May when the next USDA California Processing Tomato Report is released.