- François-Xavier Branthôme
- 2017 production
Provisional results for the 2017 season of the worldwide processing industry still require some adjustments, and final confirmation should be available during February 2018 at the Sacramento Food Processing Expo hosted by the California League of Food Processors, but these results will certainly be lower than earlier estimates of worldwide consumption (approximately 38 million metric tonnes (mT)).
According to the latest indications from the WPTC, 37.467 million tonnes have been processed this year. Global operations in 2017 have undergone a noticeable contraction of more than 600 000 mT (-1.6%) compared to 2016 results (38.07 million mT), which is almost equivalent to the entire Algerian production for the year. Drought in a number of countries like Italy, heavy rainfall during planting operations in others (like Greece, Turkey, California and Canada) and in many cases the effects of a string of major heatwaves throughout the summer have all had an impact on the harvest and led to a drop in processed volumes. In the final count, the provisional result of 37.46 million mT is 740 000 mT (close on 2%) lower than initial intentions (38.2 million mT) published in January 2017.
Forecasts for AMITOM countries have turned out to be very reliable, with provisional results (16.42 million mT) varying by less than 100 000 tonnes (0.6%) from initial intentions (16.518 million mT). Most of the national harvest programs have been carried out with very small discrepancies, except in the cases of Algeria, which processed 100 000 mT (+20%!) more than planned, Turkey, whose volumes were 100 000 mT (-5%) lower than initial intentions, and Iran, whose processed quantities were 500 000 mT (-33%!) lower than intentions announced in January. In 2017, the volumes processed by AMITOM countries accounted for 43.8% of total worldwide operations.
In California, the season saw several successive adjustments in official processing prospects. Planting operations were disrupted by heavy rains between February and April, which did however greatly improve the situation with regard to the drought that had been affecting the region for the previous five years, while it also delayed the onset of the program by about ten days in the northern part of the state. Processing estimations, which were temporarily increased from 11.6 to 11.8 million short tonnes (sT) (from 10.5 to 10.7 million mT) in June, were then downscaled, in particular due to the impact of June's heatwave, and the final result has confirmed what a number of Californian industry operators had predicted: as of 28 October, the volumes processed in California were estimated at 10.463 million sT (or 9.492 million mT). A further 408 000 mT processed were added to these figures by operators in other US states, a result that is also down from initial production intentions. The volumes processed in the United States accounted for slightly more than 26% of worldwide tonnage in 2017.
In the final count, US results for 2017 stand at 9.9 million mT, down by almost 1.1 million mT on initial intentions announced in January, but more importantly down by close on 2 million mT on the results of 2016 (11.47 million mT). This decrease in the level of operations, which was planned by Californian operators, should contribute to the recovery of the situation in terms of inventories, which were inflated by the strong results of the 2014 and 2015 harvests and by commercial difficulties that have appeared in recent years.
In China, weather conditions have not had much effect on the size of the harvest. The crops might have been affected by the heatwave that hit Xinjiang between 5 and 10 July, but in the end, the way the season unfolded and the level of operations suffered more from the effects of interruptions imposed for sanitary reasons on several of the factories in the region. Chinese authorities have been more and more sensitive to environmental issues and have imposed increasingly demanding regulations in terms of waste-water treatment. This impacted several plants in Inner Mongolia in previous years and hit Xinjiang this year. According to local operators, the impact of these measures should be fully felt in 2018.
According to the figures provided by the WPTC, final Chinese results – despite incidents throughout the season – were estimated as of end of October at 5.94 million mT, which is a growth of 8% compared to intentions published in January and of 15% against 2016 results (5.15 million mT). According to local sources, the production of paste (double concentrated and triple concentrated) should amount to between 750 000 and 800 000 mT. This year's production in China accounted for slightly less than 16% of global operations.
Other major processing regions are responsible for about 14% of global operations. Of these 4.2 million mT, countries of South America (Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, etc.) processed 3.37 million mT this year, which is approximately 9% of the world's production in 2017.
The proportion of these quantities that is the result of counter-seasonal operations compared to the northern hemisphere has increased by more than 380 000 mT (13%) compared to the 2016 harvest, mainly due to notable increases in operations recorded in Chile and Argentina.
Sources: AMITOM & WPTC
Some complementary data
Processing results for the main countries of the world's tomato industry.