Supplies of tomatoes are good, though the market has been pushing up for the last four to five weeks. “We’re not sure what that’s from,” says Alex Duvall of Morro Bay, Ca.-based Vida Fresh Inc., who notes one new factor that could possibly affect price is the United States is set to impose a 17.5 percent tariff on Mexican tomato imports
One of Vida Fresh’ many crops are tomatoes, including the branded vine-ripened Tasti-Lee tomato, which are grown in a modified environment described as a net house. “We shade them and unshade them in this environment and we can get all the netting off the structure very rapidly,” says Duvall. “We had the big Israeli greenhouses about seven to eight years ago that got taken down by the 2010 hurricanes. It levelled all of our multimillion dollar greenhouses. Yet, we were able to salvage a lot of the netting and poles from those and we turned those into perfect growing environments for our Tasti-Lee production.”
Demand increasing too
While Vida’s farm is in Southern Baja, Mexico, Duvall notes that Northern Baja is also producing competing two-layer vine-ripened tomatoes currently.
Demand for tomatoes looks to be strong given the company has increased its production this year by about 25 percent compared to last year’s program. “Contractually, the product is 80 percent committed. We grow more than that so we have a little bit to play with in the market, about a load a week,” Duvall says, adding that its season ends in the middle of July.
Given all of this, he notes that pricing for vine-ripened tomatoes is similar to last year. “But it’s higher than we expected right now based on the past few weeks pricing being much lower,” he says.