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2018 Provisional end-of-season results

30/10/2018 - Sophie Colvine , François-Xavier Branthôme - 2018 Season - Lire en français
34.3 million mT: Worldwide processing at its lowest level for the past five years
WPTC Crop update as of 25 October 2018

Provisional end-of-season information gathered at the end of October by the World Processing Tomato Council (WPTC) has confirmed the decrease in volumes processed worldwide by the industry in 2018: 34.3 million metric tonnes (mT) of processing tomatoes have been harvested this season, which is 3.48 million mT (approximately 9%) less than in 2017 (37.8 million mT). This result also demonstrates a notable drop (2.8 million mT or -7.5%) compared to initial processing intentions published last January and February (37.116 million mT).
Unexpectedly harsh weather conditions greatly disrupted crop preparations and the harvest itself, with an adverse effect on volumes and sometimes on the quality of the raw materials delivered to processing plants. In some cases, this compounded the limitations of quantities already decided in a number of regions.

It is still too early to fully estimate the impact of this lower level of operations on the global markets, but many commentators are hoping it will turn out to be positive. A few recent flutters in prices, along with the opinion of several industry experts, tend to indicate that the slowdown recorded this year could lead to a drop in stocks remaining from previous campaigns and contribute to a healthier situation of the global trade context. A lot of uncertainty remains regarding how long it will take for this long-awaited potential recovery of worldwide prices for tomato products to become effective. But whether it takes a few weeks or a few months, the end of the 2018 season probably coincides with the start of a new evolutionary cycle for volumes and prices(*). In addition to a recovery of confidence and necessary profitability for operators, this consolidation should provide accurate and decisive indications in terms of appreciation and comprehension of worldwide consumption.

AMITOM members in the EU 
In Portugal, the 2018 season was also difficult with a difficult spring, a very late harvest (up to 3 weeks delay) and lower than usual farm yields (average about 85 t/ha). This led to a reduction in the forecast from 1.40 million mT before the season, down to 1.25 million mT, then to 1.1 million mT. A good end of season enabled to reach a final figure estimated between 1.15 and 1.18 million mT. Fruit quality and brix were however very good which led to higher processing yields than last year. Colour which is usually excellent in Portugal, has not been great over the last three years. 

In Spain, it was also a very troubled season with worries about a drought in the early spring, followed by too much rain during planting and cool weather in June and July, which led to a very late start of the harvest. At the end of August, only 45% of the crop had been harvested instead of the normal 65%. The last company in the North is just closing and the final volume is estimated at 2.8 million mT. 

In France, the final volume delivered to the factories is about 152,000 mT, but the rate of rejects was quite high this year at 8.2% meaning a net volume processed of 140,000 mT. About half of the volume was processed into paste. Organic production was about 10,000 mT.  

The final production in Italy was 4.65 million mT with 2.45 million mT in the North of Italy and 2.2 million mT in the South of Italy (see attached report with detailed figures).
In the South, the season was short, with a late start of the harvest (by one week) and an earlier end (in week 40). It was affected by a very rainy spring and rains during the harvest (week 33). Factory yield was lower than last year. One of the issues reported is that growers plant too much long varieties as they have higher farm yield (up to +20%) but have a lower brix and factory yield than round varieties when used for concentrating or dicing than the canning they are intended for (and paid higher price for). 
In the North, the season was good and the final volume represented 98% of the volume contracted with better factory yield was than last year of puree and paste (but not for dices).
In Greece, the 2018 season was not a good one, even probably the worst in the last twenty years, with bad weather and notably rain at the wrong times. This resulted in a 25% reduction of the production compared to the initial forecast, to only 320,000 mT. 

In Hungary, the end of season was not ideal, and the harvest ended 7 to 10 days earlier than usual on 20 September with a total of only 106,000 mT processed instead of the 120,000 mT initially expected from the 1,350 hectares planted. Fruit quality was not great and the average brix was 4.78. 

Other AMITOM members
Contacts made at SIAL suggested that the figure reported for Algeria (500,000 mT) is probably too high, while in Egypt, 2018 production was probably higher than the 300,000 mT estimated earlier in the absence of local information (one large local processor estimate it at between 400,000 and 450,000 mT). 

In Tunisia, the total volume processed was 629,000 mT of tomatoes, of which 610,000 mT for the production of paste and 19,000 mT for canning. 

In Turkey, the 2018 season was a very bad one, with lower surfaces planted due to competition with other crops (cotton and corn mainly), damaged surfaces due to hailstorms in the south, tomatoes being diverted to the fresh market due to greenhouses being affected by a virus, … While the price of contracts was about 360 TRL, these were raised to 450 TRL during the season and tomatoes were sold on the spot market for 500 TRL. The final production remains estimated at 1.3 million mT.

In Ukraine, the harvest started in early August and ended on 10 October with a final volume of 735,000 mT, slightly below the target of 750, 000 mT. It was a difficult season with rains during the last two weeks of July and during three weekends of September. This led to diseases and a low brix across the region (average 4.75) and a low factory yield. 

Other WPTC countries
In Brazil, the harvest season should finish during the first week in November. Heavy rains are leading to a reduction in the final volume which will probably be circa 1.4 million mT instead of the 1.49 million mT earlier estimate.

In California, most factories finished ten days ago with only small production remaining to be reported. The final volume should be close to 12.2 million short tons (11,065 million  mT). The end of the season was uneventful. 

In China, it is estimated that the 2018 processing season ended with a total volume of about 3.8 million mT, slightly more than the 3.7 million mT expected at the beginning of the season, but a large drop compared with the 6.2 million processed in 2017. 
In Japan, the total volume processed in 2018 was 25,200 mT from 420 hectares.  

In Ontario (Canada), the tomato harvest is now wrapped up after a very successful year with quality, colour and solids reported to be good to excellent throughout the entire season. Contracted tons were 471,624 short tons (427,850 mT) and the final production was 496,000 short tons (450,000 mT) net delivered. 

In South Africa, the warm weather and the end of the season have impacted negatively on the total volume. The final estimate is 135,000 mT.

Other countries
In the US Midwest the harvest ended in early October with a total volume of 438,000 short tons (397,000 mT), excluding Pennsylvania (where production is small). Some crop losses were experienced due to the heavy rains in September, but the final volume is close to the original contracted amounts.

In Poland, the final production is higher than initially expected at 200,000 mT, due to a good weather for the late crop which enabled to extend the season until 15 October. The surface planted of 2,800 hectares reached an average yield of 72 t/ha. 155,000 mT were processed into 29,000 mT of paste, 25,000 mT into 15,000 mT of canned tomatoes, with the additional volumes either frozen (12,000 mT) or processed mainly into juice or passata. 

Some complementary data
(*): "The Stilwell Cycle": this term refers to the recurrent evolutionary cycle of processed volumes at the worldwide level, which varies in duration from four to six years, and which is made up of "five successive phases (varying in length) of enthusiasm, euphoria, denial, consternation and despair." This cycle was first described by Martin Stilwell in 2013. 
Synoptic of Global Processing in 2018

Table of results for worldwide processing over the past four years

Source: WPTC, AMTOM, Tomato News

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