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The overall trend in many markets around the world is that of lower prices for tomatoes. This is largely due to lower demand from consumers coupled with stronger supply. Even in Italy, known for their strong tomato consumption, demand is stagnant. This has caused prices to plummet over the past 10 days. The supply from Spain, Turkey and Morocco brings added competition. In Germany an oversupply of tomatoes is forcing prices down. Ample supply is available from domestic German suppliers as well as the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. In France the large supply on the market is not met by the demand, which is trending lower, especially at the end of the month. This has caused downward pressure on prices. The greenhouse campaign in Almería, Spain ends with the expectation of starting earlier in 2024/25. The imports of tomatoes from Morocco, which have led several associations and producer organizations in France to stage new protests, together with the supply from other origins, have contributed to the significant drop in prices that has been experienced in Almería in the winter tomato campaign.

Morocco has seen an eventful campaign end, with many twists and turns. The Moroccan tomato season is over for most varieties, with the exception of the late varieties exported in summer. They had to contend with an early heatwave that delayed the season by one month, falling prices of an average of 30%. An upsurge in hostility against Moroccan tomatoes in France and Spain has led to legal action in those countries. In North America tomato pricing is slightly softer. The U.S. will in the next two weeks see shorter domestic supplies. Thereafter, availability will improve as other states start harvesting. Canada has a fair bit of greenhouse tomatoes. Northern Mexico tomato harvesting is in full swing, with shipments until mid-July. Demand for Mexican tomatoes is very good along with pricing. In South Africa tomato prices are dropping further, but coming off a high base, with prices still 70% higher than last year. In China tomato prices are higher than the same period in previous years. This is due to lower yields in key growing regions of Shanghai and Zhejiang. Low temperatures in these growing regions affected the tomato fruit setting rate, leading to a decrease in yield.

Netherlands and Belgium: Tomato prices in April well below five-year average
After a dark spring where growers in the Netherlands and Belgium faced production delays, things picked up in April. Over the past winter, there was increased lighting in Dutch greenhouses, with more growers reverting to traditional cultivation schedules. Additionally, new illuminated crops have been initiated in various locations, now facing the summer ahead.

Tomato prices in April remained well below the five-year average for a considerable period. Particularly noticeable were lower prices for loose and cluster tomatoes compared to April last year. A slower start to the season, following a winter with energy issues, contributed to market challenges. However, pricing has recently aligned with the five-year average on Flemish auction clocks.

Greenhouses increasingly feature ToBRFV-resistant varieties from breeding companies. The focus has shifted beyond just resistance to also include quality and taste. Despite changes in varieties, consumer taste perception remained consistent according to taste and quality studies conducted last winter. Nonetheless, researchers observed differences, particularly in fruit firmness.

Italy: Plummeting prices due to stagnant demand
Greenhouse tomato growing is currently in a transitional phase, with the end of the winter crop and the start of the summer short-cycle crop.

Against this backdrop, prices at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Vittoria, Sicily, have been plummeting for the past ten days. Stagnating demand is the main reason for the crisis. In addition, there is competition from Spain, but above all from Turkey and Morocco. The latter had suffered from phytosanitary pressure last year, but now seem to be back stronger than before, even though wholesale prices are not much different from those in Italy. However, they are still depressing tomato prices throughout the Euro-Mediterranean macro-region. For cherry tomatoes in particular, prices range from €0.80 for the best lots to €0.30 for goods from crops that are almost finished. In any case, they are below production prices. There are already enquiries from processors offering €0.20-0.25/kg. The Pixel and Piccadilly segments overlap in price, ranging from 0.70 to 0.30 €/kg. Plum tomatoes range from 1€/kg for the extra category to 0.50€/kg for older products. And when market demand slumps, Italian retailers tend to source from abroad.

In other Italian wholesale markets, in addition to various types of tomatoes from Sicily, Lazio and other Italian origins, there are also Dutch round smooth red bunch tomatoes (first category and size 67-82, in double layers) at a prevailing price of €1.05 to €1.40; Moroccan round smooth salad tomatoes (first category and size 67-82, in double layers) at a prevailing price of €1.05.

Tomatoes are bought by more than 90% of Italian households: according to data from GfK Consumer Panel Services, the frequency of purchases reached almost 18 times a year in the last twelve months, with the average expenditure per transaction being almost €2.5 over the same period.

Germany: Oversupply of tomatoes forces prices down
Dutch and Belgian badges formed the basis of the range. Tomatoes from Germany, Spain and Italy complemented the supply. The availability had evidently increased and often exceeded demand. The demand wasn't that bad, but it was not enough to avoid oversupply. As a result, traders were often forced to adjust their prices downwards.

Belgium and the Netherlands dominated the vine tomato market, with market shares of 47 and 44 per cent respectively. For cherry tomatoes, the market was recently more divided between the Netherlands (38%), Italy (27%) and Belgium (23%).

France: Large supply, slow tomato sales
There is a large supply of tomatoes on the French market at the moment. But we're a few degrees short of a really dynamic consumption. The many public holidays in May didn't help sell volumes either. Not to mention the fact that households tend to consume less at the end of the month. As a result, there was a slight imbalance between supply and demand.

The result has been some pressure on prices since last week, with prices down on those of the same time last year. The price of grape tomatoes, for example, has fallen by 20 centimes/kilo in two days. As for quality, there's nothing to report - it's good.

There is also competition from tomatoes from the Netherlands and Belgium. The last Spanish volumes are arriving in France this week, but should finish shortly. For cherry tomatoes, there is also strong competition from Morocco.

Spain: Greenhouse campaign in Almería ends with expectation of starting earlier in 2024/25

Imports of tomatoes from Morocco, which have led several associations and producer organizations in France to stage new protests, together with the supply from other origins, have contributed to the significant drop in prices that has been experienced in Almería in the winter tomato campaign.

"Since the end of December/beginning of January, the campaign was complicated by those low prices and to this day we have not been able to recover; Fortunately, the beginning of the campaign was very good, with rising prices," explains an operator from Almeria. "It is necessary to say that the good weather not only here, but in the rest of the producing countries has caused there to be excess production in all origins. "We, today, can carry several million kilos more than last season, even with low prices and people removing crops ahead of time."

"However, looking at Moroccan export data, we were surprised that there is no control by Europe over what is being sent. And now, if we talk about England, the figures say it all; With the exception of specific clients, England is practically buying only Moroccan tomatoes, which further complicates the situation," he points out.

"For this reason, we are committed to specialties as the way to differentiate ourselves in the market, such as the pink tomato, which is widely consumed here in Poland, and which we can make of very good quality and with good endurance for export thanks to the waters tough with those we grow in Almería."

"Also for this year, we will be able to advance the campaign more compared to last year, so we will have the advantage of having product sooner. In the 2023/24 campaign, what most influenced the delay in its start was the fear of the tomato rugose virus, but this year we already have resistant varieties so we hope that the campaign will be brought forward by at least 20 days, which will mean enter the market a month or 40 days before."

"When Holland or Poland begin to finish with tomatoes of lower quality, we will be able to enter sooner with a new crop when there is a lot of demand and good prices. In that aspect, Morocco cannot enter so soon due to the heat in the country, but here in Almería we are in a privileged area to produce tomatoes."

Morocco: Eventful campaign ends with many twists and turns
The Moroccan tomato season is over for most varieties, with the exception of the late varieties exported in summer. The campaign has been eventful, with many twists and turns. It began with a delay of two weeks to one month, depending on the variety, due to a heat wave that scorched the summer 2023 crops. A month later, growers were able to return to the same level of planted area as the previous season. Volumes then increased dramatically later in the season, due to exceptionally warm weather.

As a result, prices have fallen. A grower says: "Prices have fallen by 30% on average, which has led to a drop in income." As for markets, he reports "stable market shares for Moroccan exporters in Europe and steady growth in export volumes. There has been no unusual growth or loss. Volume quotas are evolving slowly. The distribution of European markets between the different origins has also remained stable, with Morocco specializing in the French, British and Dutch markets".

On a positive note, the season brought reason to believe that ToBRFV is weakening. A grower says: "We've observed that ToBRFV has weakened considerably. While the damage was around 40% last season, it has averaged 5% this season, with disparities depending on locality and grower. Apparently, and I hope so, this is the beginning of the curb of the virus that was a thorn in the side of growers."

The season was also marked by an upsurge in hostility towards Moroccan tomatoes in northern countries, notably France and Spain. Demonstrations and the destruction of Moroccan trucks prompted Morocan growers' associations and the Moroccan government to take legal action in Spain.

The next season is set to start earlier. As one grower puts it: "The season will start earlier. The weakening of the ToBRFV virus also means that tomato production will be higher. However, there will be a redistribution of varieties. In recent years, production of segmentation tomato varieties has increased considerably, but this season the market for these varieties has reached saturation point. So there will be a return of interest in round tomatoes next season".

The Moroccan Tomato Conference will take place at the end of May in Agadir, with the participation of industry stakeholders, and on the agenda the discussion of market trends, new techniques towards performance and disease management.

North America: Tomato pricing slightly softer
In the U.S., the next two weeks will see shorter domestic tomato supplies and quality concerns with Florida largely wrapped up but also contending—as is Georgia–with rain and weather which could impact quality. In the West, California also has production though cool, overcast weather could impact availability.

Out of Canada, there's a fair bit of greenhouse production.

Availability will improve within the next two to four weeks as other states come on with production, including Tennessee and Arkansas and, later, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other regions.

In Northern Mexico, tomatoes are in full production and that region should ship until the middle of July. This is on Roma tomatoes and the round tomato program, which is behind this year by about a month, will begin this week.

As for demand, it's been very good and pricing is between $12-$16. Though this week, warmer weather is bringing on more Mexican production and markets are softening. The market is expected to stabilize in the coming weeks and will likely autocorrect following this week when everybody is coming into full production.

South Africa: Tomato prices dropping further
Tomato prices are on a similar price trend to 2022, according to market analysts. The price dropped by almost a third last week to about R12,50 per kilogram and is expected to come down further. There is a significant difference between the price for large tomatoes and small and medium tomatoes.

However, the tomato price is still 70% higher than last year because of low volumes of, specifically, large class 1 and niche tomatoes. The Western Cape tomato season would normally run into May but ended earlier. In Limpopo Province some producers' crops are small as a result of excessive heat during late summer.

The Tuta absoluta moth has led to the exit of some tomato producers as it has spread like wildfire from one tomato farm to the next, with no known cure.

China: Tomato prices are higher than the same period in previous years
As the temperature rises, merchants have recently started actively selling. However, compared to previous years, merchants report a significant reduction in tomato production volume in the two major production areas of Shanghai and Zhejiang. Early low temperatures affected the tomato fruit setting rate, leading to a decrease in yield. The second crop of tomatoes has just launched on the market, and high-quality supplies are scarce, resulting in prices remaining at ¥4.4-4.8 per kilogram.

Additionally, due to the reduced early supply of local tomatoes in Shanghai this year, the current market mainly features tomatoes from Qingzhou, Yucheng, and Shouguang production areas in Shandong. The wholesale price has remained stable at ¥95-100 per box (18 kilograms), which is ¥10-15 higher than the same period in previous years.

Notably, this year has seen a significant increase in taste-oriented tomatoes, with Shanghai and Zhejiang also beginning to grow these varieties. The market price for Provence tomatoes is ¥80-85 per box (net weight 10 kilograms) and Strawberry tomatoes are priced at ¥60-65 per box (net weight 5 kilograms).

Next week's topic: Kiwis