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North America: Fine weather resulting in strong tomato volumes

There are plenty of tomatoes in the market right now. Ideal weather in all growing regions has meant that production has strengthened. There have also been a few transitions with some regions starting and some finishing up. It has all culminated in a challenging month for tomato producers.

"We are seeing the northern parts of Mexico, such as Sonora, begin their field tomato production," said Alberto Sevilla of Bellflower Produce. "Sinaloa has just finished, while only greenhouses remain in production in central regions. The weather has been great in all areas, including Mexico and Florida, pushing volumes higher. We are also seeing more volume in Canada now as production picks up there also."

"It's been a challenging month for the market. The coolers are full in McAllen and there is very little movement," Sevilla continued. "As a result, we expect to see a continuation of this market for at least another month."

Retailers not pushing enough
As Sevilla noted, movement is slow and he explained that part of the problem lies with retailers who are not reducing prices for customers. "We're now seeing minimum prices on the market just to move inventory," he said. "I've had to give away some loads simply to move them. Retailers are not pushing as much as growers want them to. Prices remain relatively high in stores and customer demand is flat. The cooler weather in the Northeast is also contributing to the weak demand. It would really benefit growers and the broader market if retailers were to lower prices and push some ad campaigns."

The majority of field production in Mexico is now centered on vine-ripened and Roma tomatoes. "TOVs have finished for the year in Mexico, outside of greenhouse production," Sevilla observed. "In the United States, main production is only vine-ripened, while in Canada we're seeing cherry and grape tomatoes, along with other types. During the winter season, Bellflower Produce has Strawberry tomatoes, for which we have contracted customers."

Working on new packaging
Bellflower Produce began operations three years ago, and have since experienced strong growth in their business. The company has increased acreage and are looking to further add to it this year. "We started operations back in 2015 with 22 acres and up until today we have 60 acres in full operation," Sevilla said. "We are now building another 22 more that will start operations for next growing season."

A new packaging design is also in the works as the company looks to personalize their brand further. They are currently in talks with a manufacturer to get the design exactly how they envision. Sevilla said the company hope to launch the packs later this year. "We're in the process of bringing out a new 1lb presentation pack, similar to what is seen with grapes but made of different material," he said. "It's currently in the development phase and we're designing it with the manufacturer to really make it our own. We are also looking into making them more eco-friendly as this is something that consumers are asking for and is also important for us. The packs will be for TOVs and we are looking at having it ready in time for PMA later this year."

For more information:
Alberto Sevilla
Bellflower Produce
Tel: +1 (956) 739-9345

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