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The tomato crop is facing severe problems in the Mediterranean basin but also in California, representing together more than 65% of the world production :

SPAIN : down 20 %

A very wet winter followed by an exceptionally rainy spring made it very difficult for Spanish farmers, especially in Extremadura, to prepare the fields for transplantation operations. Moreover, a normal planting calendar would be 15 % late March, 60 % in April and the rest 25% early May; as of May 15 th ., the average planted did not reach 60 % according to local sources !

3 consequences must be expected from this situation :

-  lower than expected yields due to poor land preparations and difficult planting conditions (plants not planted at optimal growing stage, poor soil conditions, higher risk of diseases...) and a large surface exposed to heat wave during flowering,

-  a late start currently estimated between August 5 th and 10 th , compared to July 20 th . in a normal year meaning a shorter and riskier (late harvesting) crop,

-  lower than expected surfaces as growers are reluctant to transplant too late into May.

Contracted surfaces in Extremadura were 15 430 hectares (against 16 879 in 2012 - down 8.6 %) with an expected yield of 80 MT. per hectare (against 85 MT. in 2012 but an average yield around 75 MT. per hectare the past 5 years) which gives a contracted volume of 1.247 Millions MT. against 1.49 Million last crop. Based on crop details above, one can now expect a crop between 1 and 1.1 Million MT. Andalucia was also affected by the transplanting issues but local processors still expect to achieve the expected 180 000 MT. program. When adding Navarra’s volume - around 250 000 MT., the Spanish output could only reach 1.5 to 1.6 Millions MT., down from the initial forecast of 1.8 Million and 20 % from 2012 !

PORTUGAL : same as in Spain

The Portuguese production areas have also faced the weather problems mentioned for Extremadura. Unconfirmed sources indicated to Tomatoland that less than 50 % of the total surfaces have been planted at mid May; thanks to a milder weather in summer, Portuguese farmers can transplant during June with less risks than their Spanish neighbours; nevertheless, this high percentage of late tomatoes will have to be harvested in October, again a higher risk factor for the tomato crop. One can easily expect a lower output than initially forecast, between 1.05 and 1.1 Million MT. of fresh tomatoes.

NORTH ITALY : worrying situation

North Italy has experienced and is still facing very adverse conditions - likely the worst in many years - during its transplanting period. As of mid May, less than 50 % of the surfaces were planted in most areas ! Local processors expect lower yields because of poor field preparations and very humid conditions, as well as reduced surfaces as "it will be likely too late to catch up" with the delay ! Overall the reduction could reach 15 - possibly more ? – from the initial program of 4.6 Millions MT. This volume was already revised down to 4.3 Millions in April and could be as low as 4 to 4.1 Millions MT., down 10 % from 2012, 16 % from 2011 and almost 30 % from 2009 !

CALIFORNIA : Cold-Break production at risk

Once is not custom, California is also experiencing troubles with its tomato crop. Some part of the early varieties tomato fields have indeed been heavily infected with Curly Top Virus ! As explained by the CTGA : " The virus causes stunting, purpling or yellowing of entire small plants and partial symptoms on older plants from a single feeding. Once infected, the plant declines within two weeks. As with most viruses, once infected, there is no cure ".  Cold-break varieties, mostly grown to process tomato paste for the exporting markets, are specifically obtained during this early stage of the crop. Even when the grower has replanted after the attack, it was done with Hot-Break varieties tomatoes not suitable for processing Cold-Break paste ! Although it is too early to evaluate the losses on the planned Cold-Break production, it is now clear that Californian processors will have less goods to ship abroad. As a matter of fact, most processors have decided to withdraw from these markets as they expect a lower output.


Coming to CHINA now, local sources are reporting normal to good conditions in Xinjiang areas but also in the other producing regions. As explained before, the program for the main 3 processors is : COFCO TUNHE : 1.4 Million MT. of fresh tomatoes equivalent to about 180 000 MT. of paste, CHALKIS : 0.75 Million MT. of fresh for about 85 000 MT. of paste and HAOHAN : 0.5 Million MT. for about 65 000 MT. of paste. Together with an estimated 200 000 MT. of paste - equivalent to about 1.5 Million MT. of fresh fruits - the total forecast reaches 4.3 Millions MT. of fresh tomatoes for a production between 550 and 600 000 MT. of paste . It is however uncertain whether the Chinese processors will manage to achieve their respective program and some analysts expect a lower crop in 2013.

Globally, we have a further reduction of the total output at 33.5 Millions MT. of fresh tomatoes , almost stable from 2012 and down about 3 % or 1 Million MT. from the initial February projection; meaning a significant lack or products - with an estimated consumption evaluated around 38 Millions MT. fresh tomatoes equivalent - 2 years in a row. From a purely arithmetic standpoint, we are heading towards a global shortage. Opponents to this opinion claim - or hope – that the consumption could have dropped in recent years; according to most specialists, it is doubtful that the consumption has declined to a level where the world production could match up the world requirements. Moreover, some experienced processors do not believe that the tomato industry will be able to increase its production in 2014 to a level sufficient to cover the consumption. "The situation is worse than it was in 2008" believes a large European broker.

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