Dutch tomato exports had a peak year in 2017. Exports, however, declined in 2018. In 2018, Dutch tomato exports were estimated to be worth EUR1.610 million. This is a reduction of 7,5%.
This still puts the 2018 estimated export value above that of 2016. This is according to research done by Wageningen Economic Research and the CBS. This study was commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality.
The picture painted in 2018 is mainly due to the disappearance of part of the consumer demand for Dutch tomatoes in the summer, especially in Germany. At 47,5%, the share of Dutch exports to Germany is slightly lower than that of 2017.
The trade balance for 2018 is estimated to be EUR1.345 million. Compared to 2017, this trade balance fell by EUR85 million. There were fewer exports and fewer imports as well.
High production due to heat - assimilated lighting changes sales pattern
From January 2018, the international tomato market showed signs of a surplus and a stagnated demand. This resulted in lower prices. The decline in export values was the largest in the German market (-9%). The decline was a small four percent to other EU countries. Admittedly, due to the hot weather, Dutch production was high. However, the tomatoes' quality declined as the supply season progressed.
Using assimilated lighting in tomato cultivation has led to an entirely different supply pattern. This is compared to conventional cultivation. Lit Dutch tomatoes are on the market from January. About 30% of the acreage used in the Netherlands for growing tomatoes in currently under lights. In recent years, this area has rapidly expanded. In 2018, prices were disappointing since January. This could indicate that there was an over-production in the first months of the year.
Export to the UK increases
The British Pound's exchange rate is not favorable for the Netherlands. Despite this, the export share from this country to the United Kingdom (UK) was estimated to be four percent higher in 2018 than it was in 2017. The UK remains the second most important export country for Dutch tomatoes.
Export to Sweden took a dip in 2018 (-12%). Taking into account the stable exports in the years preceding 2018, this looks like a once-off. Export to Poland continues to grow (+20%). This, despite, the considerable increase in their local production. The export value to Belgium dropped a little (-5%).
The decreased Dutch demand in 2018 also led to lower import figures (-12%). Imports from the EU - Spain, in particular - dropped significantly more than imports from the rest of the world.
Tomatoes' market share falls slightly on the German market
On the German market, Dutch tomatoes - with a 58% market share - has the largest market share. This did, however, decrease by two percent. In 2018, Germany's total import value amounted to almost EUR1.230 million. That is seven percent lower than in 2017.
Spanish tomatoes' share on the German market increased by two percent to 25%. France and Italy's market shares are slowly declining. In 2018, exports from these countries followed that trend. On the other hand, Belgium's market share is steadily increasing.