Tomato plantings strong after 'big year' for processing crop

As the rest of the world has just completed the 2014/15 season for tomatoes, final figures are around 300,000 metric tonnes for the national crop in Australia.
“The world volume was down on what we thought, but at 41 million metric tonnes, it was still a very big year, bigger than we’ve seen for probably 4-6 years,” says Kagome CEO, John Brady. “Consumption was 39.5 million, so still slight oversupply, but the prices remained relatively good and one part of the world could swap with another relatively easily.” The last three years have averaged 33, 34 and 39 million at the most, so prices were quite strong, Mr Brady adds.
 
As for next year, Australia is anticipating the 2016 yield to be around 310,000 metric tonnes between Australia Day (Janaury 26) and mid-May next year. That will come from Australia's three commercial growers - Kagame, SPC Ardmona and Fonterra. “It’s been a very good planting season,” says Kagome CEO John Brady. “So far other than two very hot days where it was windy it’s been quite calm, there’s been no late frost and it’s been dry. We’ve certainly got no complaints.” Kagome grows tomatoes mostly in Echuca, Victoria, along the Murray Darling basin. 
 
The 2016 crop will be tomatoes used primarily for processing, as Australians remain one of the largest consumers per capita of processed or canned tomatoes in pizza, pasta and sauces, at 23-24kg per head each year.
 
Water costs, which peak at around $300 per mega litre, remain the biggest threat to growing tomatoes for processing, but the weak Australian dollar has saved the industry from major headaches, Mr Brady says, because customers are unlikely to find cheaper product overseas as they otherwise might, while the dollar sits at around US 72c-73c. “We won’t be exporting as much as we thought we would be. If we were it would be to Asia and the Middle East, but they seem happy with the crops they’re getting.”
 
The price for canned tomatoes in Australia ‘should be going up’ before too long, following the results of the Anti-Dumping Commission, which found that 105 Italian companies had been dumping processed tomatoes on the Australian market.
 
For more information 

John Brady, CEO
Kagome
Phone: +61408078130


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