- François-Xavier Branthôme
According to the latest short-term outlook report for EU agricultural markets, published on 3 October 2019 by the European Commission, total EU production of tomatoes were expected to reach 16.8 million tonnes in 2019, an increase of 4% compared to 2018. The rise is mostly driven by growth in the production of tomatoes for processing, which increased by 6%. This is reflected in processed tomato trade volumes, with EU exports expected to increase by 33% in 2019.
Increase in EU production of tomatoes mainly for processing
- The total EU production of tomatoes was expected to increase to around 16.8 million mT in 2019 (+4% compared to 2018), driven by a rise in the production of tomatoes for processing (+6%). The most significant growth is located in Spain (+14%), thanks to very favorable weather conditions (good ripening, mild temperatures). Nevertheless, the level of total EU tomato production in 2019 is 2% below the average of the past 5 year.
- The production of tomatoes for fresh consumption was expected to only slightly increase in 2019 (+1% compared to 2018) resulting from, on the one hand, an increase of production in small producing countries and, on the other hand, a crop reduction in larger producing countries (damaged greenhouse production in Spain, higher production of smaller tomato varieties leading to lower volumes, replacement of tomatoes by other vegetables in greenhouses).
The per capita consumption of fresh tomatoes was expected to slightly increase in 2019 (+1%) compared to 2018, whereas the (apparent) consumption of processed tomatoes was expected to slightly decrease (1%).
Strong increase in EU exports of processed tomatoes
- After several consecutive years of rising volumes, EU imports of fresh tomatoes were expected to remain stable in 2019, compared to 2018.
- By contrast, EU imports of processed tomatoes (in fresh tomato equivalent) were expected to increase by 11% in 2019, in particular imports of prepared and preserved tomatoes from China, but also from Chile and Ukraine.
The low EU market prices of processed tomatoes and the currently favorable dollar/euro exchange rate are factors that drive up EU exports of processed tomatoes, reducing stocks. EU exports, in fresh tomato equivalent, were likely to increase by 33% in 2019 compared to 2018 (+43% compared to average). In particular, exports to Africa (Libya, Sudan, South Africa) were expected to increase.
The elements presented in this October report are forecasts, to which the information collected by AMITOM during November obviously adds important details. As of 19 November, the quantities processed in 2019 in the European Union were estimated at 10.358 million metric tonnes (mT), up 9% compared to the previous season (2018) but in all respects similar (-0.6%) to the quantities processed on average during the three previous seasons (2016, 2017 and 2018).
As regards trade, the EU report estimated that 2.4 million tonnes (fresh tomato equivalent) of products were imported in processed forms into the EU, and that 3.6 million tonnes (fresh tomato equivalent) were exported by the EU in processed forms. According to the Commission, this data shows an increase of nearly 11% in the trade flow entering between 2018 and 2019, largely offset by a spectacular increase (32.7% over the same period) in the quantities of raw materials used for exported products. The data in the report, which was only based on trade with third-party countries (therefore excluding intra-Community trade), shows a significant rise in the EU's trade balance in 2019 for industrial tomato products, which, if the forecasts are right, could grow from about 500 000 mT in 2018 to more than 1.14 million mT (fresh tomato equivalent) in 2019.
For the record and for comparison purposes, at the time of writing this article, the data available for past marketing years (as at 30 June 2019) and for all the exchanges involving the 28 EU Member States (trade with third-party countries and intra-Community trade combined) confirm a significant increase in the results of the 2018/2019 marketing year compared with the average of the results of the three previous years. Driven by significant developments in the trade balances of the canned tomato category (+6%), sauces & ketchup (+6.4%) and particularly pastes (+69%), a rapid analysis of the trade-flows and their equivalent values in raw materials seems to indicate that the total European trade balance for tomato products has progressed in 2018/2019 by more than 900 000 mT compared to the average performance of the marketing years 2015/2016 – 2017/2018.
Rough estimate of EU trade performances
Some complementary data:
Graph table summarizing production, trade and estimated consumption of fresh and processed tomatoes in the European Union over the past five years.
Sources: European Commission, AMITOM
The full report can be found here or below: