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WPTC Crop update as of 30 March 2018

31/03/2018 - WPTC , Sophie Colvine , François-Xavier Branthôme - 2018 Season - Read in French
2018 global processing forecast amount to 37.04 million mT

This year, the processing intentions and the first season forecasts will have been strongly disturbed by the weather conditions, first of all by the fears of water shortages related to the low rainfall of the winter, then by the relatively heavy rainfall which will have helped to rebuild the reserves and reassured about water availability, but will have significantly disrupted and delayed planting programs.
In the end, the forecasts published by Amitom on March 28 amount to 15.76 million metric tonnes (mT), down 687,000 mT (-4%) from the final result of 2017 (16.45%). millions mT).
At the global level, the WPTC forecasts are around 37.04 million mT, down 753,000 mT (-2%) from the final result of 2017 (37.79 million mT).
Southern hemisphere members
In Argentina, harvest is still under way about 75% completed, the weather is dry so quality is good. The forecast remains about 420,000 tonnes from 6,100 ha. Final field gate prices are not established yet.
In Australia, the crop is still being harvested and the forecast remains at 245,000 tonnes.
In Chile, the harvest is approximately 60% completed, which is according with plans. Conditions have generally been very good, except for some light rain in the southern area in mid-March, but which did not affect the yield estimated. The yield per hectare is slightly above 90 tonnes. Tomato paste colour is above the standard and in general the quality of the product is good. The season will finish at the end of April and the final production should be 1.08 million tonnes as initially expected.
In South Africa, the growing conditions in the Northern production area are currently good.

AMITOM members in EU countries 
According to participants in the inter-professional organization SONITO meeting on 22 March, the planted area in France is expected to be 2,112 hectares in 2018, of which 1,852 are conventional and 270 are organic. This is a general decrease of 15% compared to 2017 but an increase of 5% of organic, to nearly 13% of the total production. The contracts envisaged should lead to a production of 185,000 tonnes of which 12,000 tonnes will be organic. Prices are not yet fixed but should remain stable compared to 2017.
In Greece, the weather has been quite unstable until now which has caused some delays in transplanting especially in the south where it will start in a week to ten days. The total surface will see a small decrease this year but yields should hopefully be higher which would mean a crop size of about 420,000 tonnes. The price is set independently by al processors but should be around 82-83 euros per tonne delivered.  
In Northern Italy, the situation is quite normal at the moment. The rain in the winter was good and there will be good water availability. Transplanting will start next week with no delay. The cool spring conditions, and notably cold morning temperatures are however worrying and could affect the young transplant. The surfaces to be planted are about 5% lower than last year but the quantity expected is similar at about 2.5 million tonnes: while other areas have reduced their intentions, in the Ferrara region production will increase with the reopening of the factory which did not operate last year. 
In the Centre and South of Italy, there is still no agreement on price. Processors want to reduce the premium paid for long tomatoes and reduce the price for round tomatoes slightly: in 2017 these were 97 and 87 euros per tonne ex field respectively, the highest in Europe. Whereas serious concerns were expressed about water availability in January, dams were filled due to the heavy rainfall since and the situation is now fine. The rains have however delayed planting which was scheduled to start on 20 March in the Caserta area and it has now be postponed until the first week of April. The water availability will lead to an increase in the surfaces planted which will finally only be reduced by 5 to 10% compared to last year with a volume of 2.4 million tonnes requested by the factories. 
The total forecast for Italy consequently stands at 4.9 million tonnes
The current forecast in Portugal is for 14,700 hectares to be planted for a production of 1.4 million tonnes. Following a very dry winter which lead to worries about water availability, it rained a lot in March which means that planting which should have started a couple of weeks ago could not start. More rain is expected this week and next week which mean further delays which will lead to a late start in early April.   
In Spain, the situation is pretty complex. The contracts signed at the end of January where for very low surfaces as the water reserves were drastically reduced due to the severe drought in Andalusia, and to a lower extent in Extremadura. The situation has however changed since it rained most days in March. The water availability therefore improved but the rains have prevented planting. In Andalusia, transplanting which should have started around 10 March has not yet started, and as more rain is forecast over the next weekend it means in will start at least three weeks late. Rains also stops preparation activities for the surfaces which could have been added due to water availability which will mean that planting will be very late. In Extremadura, planting should only be starting now so there is no delay yet due to rain, and there will be no issue if the rain stops now. Surfaces in this region were no reduced significantly so should remain as initially planned. Because of these issues, there is still a lot of uncertainty over the total surface which will be planted and the crop size which could be increased compared with the initial 2.6 million forecast to maybe 2.7 million tonnes.


Other AMITOM members
In Tunisia, the area planned for the seasonal tomato crop is 14,000 hectares, which with an estimated average yield of 70 t/ha is expected to produce about 980,000 tonnes, of which 700,000 tonnes are for tomato paste production and 30,000 tonnes for the production of canned tomatoes. The estimated production of 28/30 paste is 110 000 tonnes and canned 22 000 tonnes. Inter-professional negotiations (between UTICA and UTAP) are underway for an agreement on the price of tomato for the processing campaign. The last purchase price of the tomato (2017 season) was 147 DT / TM≈ 50 € / MT.  The transplanting of tomato plants has started since the end of February in the central regions (Gafsa and Kairouan) and in Cap Bon. The areas planted until 26 March reached 4,500 hectares against 4,200 at the same date of 2017. The significant rainfall of this current month of March is very favourable to the cultivation of tomatoes and to water resources (groundwater, dams). ...). The actual start of the harvest is scheduled for the 1st week of July.
In Turkey, the forecast is only 1.4 million tonnes as the industry is keen to contract but growers are reluctant to plant as other crops are more attractive for them. The current price is 340 TRL per tonne delivered (approx. 70 €/t). 
It was extremely warm and dry winter in Ukraine. Precipitation was even lower than last winter which was considered as the driest. Warm winter months allowed diseases and pathogenic organisms to survive (what is already clear with winter cereals) and processors expect some surprises form their side this season. It is a late and strange spring with a lot of snow in the middle of March, which only melted on Monday (26 March). As the top layer of the fields is quite wet now, intense preparation period is expected before transplanting which should start on the last week of April. There are some old-school growers who do direct seeding and they may face delay with their seeding operations of a week or two. The 2018 crop forecast in general remains the same: 750,000 tonnes of tomatoes should be processed in Ukraine. Accurate figures on actual growing area will be available in second half of May.


Other WPTC countries
In Brazil, for this season the total acreage will be around of 16,558 hectares, a reduction of 2,452 hectares compared with 2017. The main reason for this acreage reduction is the over production during the last season and the resulting high inventory in the industries. Last season, average yields were high due to excellent weather conditions during the season and low pests/diseases pressure. For this coming season, the weather forecast is for a cooler than the normal tropical winter, around 19° Celsius in the Cerrado region (Midwest) and the expected yield are high again. The prices paid today by the industries to the growers are on average of U$78/tonne and the exchange ratio of our currency BRL/US$ today is: R$ 3.30BRL = U$ 1.00 USD.
In California, March was a wetter month than historical averages. This has delayed some plantings due to the wet conditions about 7-10 days on average. A warmer than normal spring could make this delay irrelevant. There is some concern about planting in wetter conditions but good weather this week (week 13) and no rain in the forecast for the next 10 days should help. No change to the estimate (12 million sT or 10.886 million mT) at this time.
2018 intentions have not yet been communicated in Ontario.
In China, the temperature is little higher and the snow and rain is less than previous spring, and some expert think pests will be more likely in this summer. The seeds have been planted in greenhouse in Xinjiang, and the first tomato plants will be transplanted around 10th of April in south of Xinjiang. Currently, the anticipated surface is around 630,000 mu (42,000 hectares) but the final and actual area will be collected in May. It is expected that there will be great changes in the Chinese tomato processing industry, and some factories may not process at all this year, partly because of the strict new emissions regulations for which major investments is needed. The picture will only be clearer when all planting has been finalized. 
In Japan, the estimated surface planted is 450 hectares for a forecast of total volume of 32,000 tonnes.

Non-member countries
In Poland the surface planted should be 2,900 hectares for a production of 170,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes. Price is expected to be 385 PLN/t (91.7 €/t). The low USD exchange rate increases competitiveness of local production compared with Chinese, US and Ukrainian paste. Paste production expected to be 25,000 tonnes. Seedling production started on time about the middle of March.
In Hungary, spring has been cold so far with big amount of rain and even snow in March. As weather gets better now all plans are on time. The total estimate is about 125,000 tonnes.
The crop estimate for the US Midwest States remains in the order of 500,000 short tons i.e. 450,000 metric tonnes. The weather remains cold, with still some snowfalls and field operations will only start in late April. Red Gold recently settled pricing at 1 USD above that of last year and other processors should follow so pricing should be basically stable with a small increase. 

WPTC processing forecast as of 30 March 2018:


WPTC World Production estimate as of 30 March 2018
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