- Ag Alert
, François-Xavier Branthôme
- 2018 Season
11.137 million mT, in slightly less than 473 000 deliveries, at an average of 23.5 mT per delivery, and a slightly lower soluble solids content...
General considerations and geography
According to the figures published in the final report from the PTAB for the 2018 processing tomato season, total deliveries to Californian factories amounted to 12 276 305 short tons (sT) this year – or 11 136 877 metric tonnes (mT). This volume is 17% higher than what was delivered in 2017 (10 463 553 sT or 9 492 376 mT), but remains lower than 2016 figures (12 583 777 sT or 11 415 810 mT).
There were 57 598 more loads delivered in 2018 than in the 2017 processing tomato season in California. The number of loads delivered in 2018 was recorded at 472 956, which is 16% up on last year. The average weight of loads this year was just below 26 sT (25.96 sT or 23.55 mT). In 2017, the average load weighed 25.6 sT (23.22 mT).
The Top 5 varieties for the season, which collectively made up approximately 1/3 of the total loads delivered, are as follow:
o BQ273 – 42 112 loads
o AB0311 – 37 453 loads
o N6428 – 27 317 loads
o DRI319 – 25 060 loads
o H4707 – 24 595 loads
The Top 10 varieties represent 54.2% (256 524 loads) of the total loads delivered in 2018.
The final market shares by supplier based on loads delivered are as follows:
o Heinz – (more than 143 300 loads) - 30.3%
o Seminis – (109 700 loads) - 23.2%
o Nunhems – (76 600 loads) - 16.2%
o Harris Moran – (65 300 loads) - 13.8%
o Woodbridge Seed – (57 200 loads) - 12.1%
o United Genetics – (12 800 loads) - 2.7%
o All others – (8 000 loads) - 1.7% (see infographic at the end of the article)
For the 2018 season, only one variety topped 40 000 loads. Two varieties recorded more than 30 000 loads, fifteen varieties recorded more than 10 000 loads, thirty-five varieties topped 2 500 loads, and fifty-two varieties topped 1 000 loads.
More than half (54%) of the total loads were delivered in the South, 26.1% in the North, 19.6% in the Central region and 0.3% on the coast.
As expected, Fresno County led the way with 165 122 loads delivered, accounting for 34.9% of the loads delivered statewide and 64.7% the loads in the South.
Kings County was #2 with 62 200 loads delivered, accounting for 13.2% of the loads delivered statewide and 24.4% of the loads delivered in the South.
Yolo County ended the season at #3 with 58 096 loads delivered, accounting for 12.3% of the loads delivered statewide and 47.1% of the loads delivered in the North.
The counties of Merced and San Joaquin (in the central region) respectively rank fourth and fifth, with 41 581 loads and 33 867 loads, accounting for 8.8% and 7.2% of the shipments delivered in the State.
Solids for the 2018 season were 5.06, compared to 5.26 for the 2017 season; this is 0.20 or 3.8% lower.
2018: uses, varieties and seed-breeders
The distribution of varieties according to usage or destination (the PTAB classification mixes viscosity features (see appendices) and harvesting period) shows that Californian crops have been heavily focused on high viscosity pastes again this year, as they were in previous years. The number of shipments in this category (more than 187 000 loads) accounted for approximately 39.5% of all the loads delivered to plants in 2018, for a volume that can be estimated at approximately 4.8 million sT (4.4 million mT). Heinz varieties, particularly H4707, H5608 and H1428, supplied more than 69% (129 500 loads) of the shipments in this category. Heinz concentrated most of its focus on this category of high-viscosity varieties. In 2018, Heinz "thick" varieties accounted for more than 90% of the seed-breeder's processing tomato business in California. Heinz provided twenty-one varieties in this industry segment, against only five for Seminis (including its SV2756TM variety), four for Nunhems (including N6415), two for Harris Moran (including HM4885) and two for United Genetics.
The second biggest operator on the Californian market for processing tomato seeds in 2018 was Seminis: like most of the other significant operators, this breeder has been present on several industry segments. This year, the company was dominant (78%) on the market of low viscosity varieties (« thin »), where it achieved 59% of its business, with 64 600 shipments (notably with varieties AB0311 and DRI319). Its only direct competitor on the segment of low viscosity varieties was Nunhems (slightly more than 19% of the loads delivered, with varieties N6366 and N6402).
Nonetheless, it is on the segment of intermediate viscosity varieties that Nunhems recorded its best performance in 2018. The 31 600 loads of Nunhems varieties delivered to factories (notably the N6428 variety) accounted for more than 41% of its total tomato processing business in California this year. This result is all the more remarkable for the fact that this segment is the one where Harris Moran achieved its best results (HM3887 and HM4909) this year, with 42 000 loads delivered, accounting for 64% of its business overall. This segment of intermediary viscosity varieties is the focal point of all the harshest competition: it is also the segment where United Genetics sold most seeds in 2018, with more than 7 400 loads, accounting for 59% of the company's Californian business in the processing tomato sector.
Number of loads delivered, according to category and supplier
The only seed supplier – with Harris Moran – to present a diversified offer in all category segments, Nunhems also achieved part of its sales in the early varieties segment. With more than 9 200 loads delivered in 2018, the company recorded about 12% of its 2018 sales in this category. But on this particular market segment, Nunhems (with N6416) has to face competition from Woodbridge, a company that supplied almost three quarters of all of the "early" segment this year, thereby achieving approximately 98% of its Californian operations, notably with varieties BQ273, BQ400 and BQ403.
Trends and patterns
Several patterns can be identified in the evolution of distribution according to category of use in recent years. Firstly, there was an almost two-fold increase in the proportion of early varieties between 2011 and 2018 (from 8.2% to 16%), which is an indication of the efforts that the Californian processing industry and seed-breeding operators have been making to extend the duration of the season by starting the harvest as early as possible.
In terms of quality, and more specifically in terms of texture, the varieties that have been introduced in recent crops have increasingly focused on intermediate viscosity options (Bostwick between 3.76 and 5.39), which have grown from 12.7% of the deliveries in 2011 to 23% in 2018. At the same time, high-viscosity varieties have recorded a slow erosion in volume over the same period (from 42.6% in 2011 to 39.8% this year). But this increase in intermediate viscosity varieties has mainly occurred at the expense of the low-viscosity varieties, whose proportional share has dropped from 33.4% to 17.3% over the past seven years.
Over the past ten years, there have been some wide variations in the market share of the different seed-breeders in California, without any clear indication of a sustainable or generalized pattern emerging. At best, it is possible to underline the effect of the developing competition on the dominant positions held by Heinz, and Nunhems to a lesser extent, as new offers are being put forward by companies like Seminis, Harris Moran, Woodbridge and United Genetics.
Some complementary data
- Rapid description of the categories used for classifying the different varieties:
o Early: varieties with a maturity of 117 days or less
o Thin: predicted paste Bostwick greater than or equal to 5.40
o Intermediate: predicted paste Bostwick between 3.76 and 5.39
o Thick: predicted paste Bostwick less than or equal to 3.75
o Pears: pear shaped varieties
- Market shares of the main seed suppliers for the 2018 season in California
- Distribution of deliveries according to category of use
- Distribution of market shares according to intended use and supplier
- Distribution of deliveries according to supplier and intended use.
- All 2018 PTAB weekly reports (.pdf and .xls) as well as Final variety reports 2009 - 2016 with Hue Color Scores, Final reports 1992 - 2017 and 2017 weekly reports, are available at http://www.ptab.org/reports18.htm
Source: PTAB, AgSeeds