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Comments on the North Italian crop as of 25 September

30/09/2019 - François-Xavier Branthôme - 2019 Season
"Meticulous programming is therefore essential in order to avoid upsetting the balance of market prospects"

Due to heavy rains in May and subsequent delays, the processing season continued right until the end of week 39 in Italy, and may even stretch to the first few days of October. This last week has seen a final localized resurgence of operations and has been the topic of some early comments by industry professionals.
For Afro Morsia, a technician working with Asipo, one of the POs of northern Italy that delivers tomatoes to several of the biggest processors of Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto, "quality has been good, with an average Brix of close on 4.75 and average production of about 650 to 700 quintals per hectare in the Piacenza region. As for late-ripening varieties, the proportion of unripe fruit is close to 15%, fungal disease is virtually absent, and thanks to good weather conditions and targeted treatments, infestations of red spider mites have been far less damaging than they were last year."

"Tomato processing must be approached at a European and worldwide scale"
"Payment indexes are situated between 90 and 95 out of 100, above those of the previous season. Despite a contract price of EUR 86 /tonne, which is well above Spanish prices, growers are still complaining about the increase in the costs of production. It should be remembered that tomato processing must be approached at a European and worldwide scale." This echoes what Antonio Casana, working with Solana, has stated, underlining how "it must be remembered that although production has dropped in Italy, it has increased in Spain, Portugal and Turkey. Inventories available in the factories have almost been used up, and the demand for products is going to increase [putting pressure on companies], leading to a cautious optimism regarding the signing of contracts for next season. [...] However, this year has already recorded an increase in planted surfaces dedicated to processing tomatoes, but this has been compensated by a decrease in production. Meticulous programming is therefore essential in order to avoid upsetting the balance of market prospects.

In order to attempt to compensate for the effects of disastrous weather conditions in springtime, processing has continued until the early days of October. For Steriltom's Dario Squeri, "it will be difficult to process the required volumes," but "the quality of raw materials, which is satisfactory in terms of Brix and color in these final days of the tomato season, should bring some balance to market prospects, even if a lot of contracts were signed well before the season began."
Similar opinions have been expressed by Solana executives, in Maccastorna, where a number of producers from the Piacenza region deliver their tomatoes, as well as by people working with Collecchio-based Mutti (previously the Copador factory), with Arp in Gariga, and with Emiliana Conserve in San Polo and Bussetto. Antonio Casana has explained that "the aim was to process 140 000 tonnes, but this has been penalized by a 15% drop in the volumes delivered. In any event, this year remains fairly satisfactory, but it is essential that the industry as a whole remains coherent as to future programming."

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