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Tomato prices on the rise

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Tomato prices are on the rise as spring volumes are well below average.

F.O.B.s from Mexico have doubled in the past several weeks.

Shipments from both Mexico and Florida dropped sharply in mid-March, as many restaurants were closed due to the pandemic, and now Mexico’s winter season is ending. Florida’s tomato crop has struggled this season, but higher volume may be on the way.

F.O.B. PRICE FOR CONVENTIONAL TOMATOES FROM MEXICO CROSSING THROUGH NOGALES AZ, SIZE 5X5

F.O.B. prices in Nogales, AZ, were high in the middle of February but then dropped from over $30 to an average of $15 in early March, said Raúl López, an agronomist at Agtools.

Blue Book has teamed with Agtools Inc., the data analytic service for the produce industry, to look at a handful of crops and how they’re adjusting in the market during the pandemic.

Pricing stayed low until mid-April when it showed an increase of $10 per case to reach $20 per case. It looks like the upward trend will continue, he said.

COMPARISION OF VOLUME IN 2020 VS 2019 AND 2018

In 2018 and 2019 the volume for week 17 was above 60 million pounds per week, Lopez said. For 2020, that same week showed a volume just above 50 million per week, which represents a drop of 24% for the week.

Volume took a sharp drop in mid-March and has stayed at lower levels since.

ANALYSIS BY MAIN REGIONS

Since the middle of February supply came mostly from Mexico with 62 percent and Florida with 30 percent for a total of 92 percent of all tomatoes in the United States.

The downward volume trend is more pronounced for Mexico, but the region remains the major source product. Florida volume has been mostly steady in April.

TOTAL REGIONS SUPPLYING TOMATOES

The tomato volume for the period of February 17th through April 26th is coming from different regions, with two supplying regions accounting for 92 percent of the volume. Canada production has grown the most in relative terms as it is the fourth highest sourcing region.

Total volume of round tomatoes after the start of the crisis continues below that of previous years, Lopez said. It has been low but steady for five weeks, close to 50 million pounds per week. This represents 50 percent less than the average week in February which was close to 75 million pounds per week.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services