It’s an interesting time for tomatoes following a weaker market last week. This week, things are turning around even though the tomato supply is short right now. Roger Riehm of Blue Creek Produce says growing conditions have included a combination of cool days in Florida for the past week or two, weather temperatures cycling up and down and shorter days. “We’re finding tomatoes have started to be short on supply and not a lot of big sizes of tomatoes,” he says, adding that the growing season has also been dry--another factor contributing to the lack of sizing.
Romas, rounds and grape tomatoes have all been particularly short and seen strong pricing.
Meanwhile, Mexico is in a similar boat. “There’s not a lot coming out of Mexico right now due to, again, weather,” Riehm says, noting that his farm in Mexico for example has had five straight days now of no sun and the forecast is predicting another five days of no sun. “So even for greenhouse-grown tomatoes, we need sunlight to mature those tomatoes and get them colored for redness.”
As for greenhouse production in Canada, it’s finishing up as well due to colder temperatures setting in and the lack of sunlight.
However, demand for tomatoes is strong given the tight supply. “Pricing is good for the farm and I don’t see any lack of demand going into the holidays or the New Year,” says Riehm. “I haven’t seen pricing on grape tomatoes--which is high $50s/low $60s--like this in my 25 years.”
Looking ahead, that pattern of cool, short days means there might not be much change in tomato production and sizing soon. “There will continue to be a short supply of big tomatoes and it will keep that cost very strong on those items,” Riehm says, adding that he believes there will also be a delay on shipments out of Nogales which starts production in January.