Italy: Good prices for red Sicilian tomatoes

The Sicilian tomato season started well, especially as regards the prices of red varieties such as cherry, date and piccadilly. "The only problem is the lack of humidity. Combined with the temperature changes between night and day, it meant we didn't have the constant ripening registered in previous year. There was a one week delay between one ripe tomato and the next. The products transplanted in September were harvested 20 days late. Of course the lower supply meant prices remained high," explains Joe Fortunato from Fortunato Srl. 

The green tomato campaign didn't start out so well as sales were slow. "I don't know how to explain it, but consumption is low. Maybe it also depends on flavour, as it's not as it should be. In addition, many producers chose to grow ribbed tomatoes, so there was a lot of competition."

The Sicilian tomato campaign starts in November and the peak continues until February. Then lower volumes are available until April and the campaign ends by June.

Competition from Morocco and other North African countries wasn't very heavy. "This is also due to the fact these countries had their own problems to deal with. The Netherlands instead extended their presence on our markets until November. Then of course there is produce from Spain. Italian consumers however know the value of the local produce and tend to prefer it."

"Consumption has decreased, but we don't know why. Quality is exceptional, so it could be because of the prices, which were high already at origin."

In November and December, cherry tomatoes had an average price at origin of €1.80-2.20/kg. Date tomatoes reached €2.00-2.50/kg with peaks of €3.00. Piccadilly tomatoes were instead quoted at €1.20-1.80.

Marinda tomatoes.

Market trends
"The main retailer chains are focusing a lot on private labels and PGI-PDO products. There is a lot of demand for flavourful products, especially as regards cherry tomatoes. As for packaging, people require smaller (330 or 250 gram) punnets. In November and December, sales of PGI date, piccadilly, plum and mini-plum tomatoes have increased."

"A few groups that discarded us in the past now have a new approach, especially in Germany. It's a good sign."

Cocktail tomatoes are not very popular in Italy, but they are abroad. "Very few quantities are grown in Sicily and those who produce it do it based on pre-established plans with assured sales channels."

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