The market on greenhouse tomatoes is anticipated to pick up.
“The tomato market has been low for the last two months. We have been focusing on serving our core customers. Not only has there been overproduction and ideal weather in winter tomato growing regions, but also low demand from foodservice especially due to COVID-19,” says one grower. “But demand is finally starting to pick up, especially on Roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes and, to a certain extent, on round tomatoes. Production is winding down out of mainland Mexico and the country is opening up. As long as we don’t get a third wave of COVID-19 spikes, we should continue seeing good demand.”
He says that the past two months have been a “perfect storm” for low markets--one where demand is low and production is high given good conditions in tomato growing regions. Additionally, there have been issues with weather throughout the U.S. that have stalled commerce, such as the Texas freeze, as well as freight issues.
As for pricing, until now, it has been steady, but low. “The items improving price wise have been Roma and grape tomatoes. Round tomatoes are still at the minimums, maybe a little better than the minimums,” he says. “But I do see rounds finally starting to pick up as we head into April. A lot of production around us is finishing, so there will be less product in the market. And with more foodservice opening up and hopefully schools, round tomatoes should start to take off again demand wise.”
Trucking has been a challenge in terms of price and reliability. “A lot of drivers simply are not showing up, which may have to do with COVID-19, and perhaps the desire to stay home,” he says. It has also been difficult to get trucks this year and the pricing has been higher than average, which has not helped the market either, especially into the East Coast, he adds.
Looking ahead, his increasing confidence in the near future means the grower is expanding acreage for the next growing cycle for spring and summer.