Conversion Note: 1 metric ton = 1.102 short tons

Global tomato production is fore‐ cast to shrink nearly 2.2 million metric tons (MT) below last year’s actual output, according to the April report released by the World Processing Tomato Council. The forecast of 35.43 million MT represents a 5.8% decline from 2011.

Removing California’s crop from the numbers leaves international forecasts with an even sharper drop, 10% below last year’s production.

China expects to pack only 5.1 million MT of tomatoes, off a stunning 25% from last year’s 6.792 million MT. After years of rushing to grow, China’s industry is suffering and contracting.

Chalkis, China’s second‐largest tomato processor, is under government investigation over massive losses in 2011. It appears too much product was packed at too high of raw product cost.

In an interview with Food News in April, Yi Kang, chairman and chief executive of Haohan Group, sighted excess stocks, factories in need of year‐end cash flow, and variable quality causing Chinese paste price to be unstable.

Yi Kang also expects China’s tomato production to fall by more than the 25% officially reported. Yi Kang stated that growers made no money on tomatoes last year and have no incentive to grow them this year as the price of cotton is up. Additionally, he says the government investigation of Chalkis will severely hamper production in the Xinjaing region.

Italy expects production to be down 12% to 4.35 million MT. A bitter battle over raw product pricing in the North caused two processors to break ranks and negotiate separately. Eventually, the Emilia‐Romagna regional government intervened to get the processors and growers talking again. The price was finalized at 84 Euro per MT, down 6%. Growers wanted a 5‐10% increase.

Elsewhere in Europe, forecasts are a mixed bag. Spain expects 1.7 million MT, 14% under 2011. Greece’s forecast of 400,000 MT is up 23% from last year, but Portugal forecasts 950,000 MT down 11% from 2011. France expects 4% more at 200,000 MT.

Turkey plans 2.05 million MT, up 6%, while Brazil plans for 1.55 million MT, down 2.5%. Currently harvesting their tomatoes, Chile (668,000 MT) and Argen­ tina (350,000 MT) expect 16% and 1% less output respectively.

INCREASING PROFESSIONALISM: The Effect of Common Agriculture Policy Reform in the EU
The April Issue of Tomato News recapped information showing subsidy reform’s effect on tomato growers in the European Union. Without tomato specific subsidies, only economically efficient farmers grow them. The first graph below shows how average yield in Spain’s Extremadura region are trending up sharply as the number of growers trends down. The second graph shows that the number of growers in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region is shrinking, with a swelling percentage of growers farming over 30 hectares and a sliding percentage of small growers under 3 hectares.

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