The supply chain's weak links and California's capricious winter weather are affecting the forecast for the state's processing-tomato farmers.
In January 2021, tomato processors intended to contract for 12.1 million tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistical Service. That figure was lowered twice as the drought wore on—first to 11.6 million tons in May, then to 11.1 million tons in August.
The final harvest for 2021 was 10.8 million tons, well short of what growers wanted and processors needed, said Mike Montna, the president of CTGA . "It puts us in a pretty low inventory position where we're going to have right around two months, maybe a little more than two months, worth of inventory starting June 1 based on projections," Montna said. "That's extremely tight."
Unlike most years, tomato farmers already have a set price for their crop this year. The CTGA and processors agreed last month on $105 per ton, up from $84.50 in 2021. Montna said inflation and farmers' increasing costs of growing factored into the price boost, noting growers and processors were motivated to reach an agreement early.