, François-Xavier Branthôme
- 2020 Season
Impacted by weather conditions, global forecasts reduced by 1 million tonnes
Processing prospects have become clearer as the harvest season progresses. Having remained unchanged for a long time at around 39 million metric tonnes, figures for the volumes of tomatoes to be processed this year have become increasingly accurate in recent weeks as several more or less significant revisions have been made. Among those which considerably alter the level of global operations, brief mention should be made of the reduction in prospects for the Californian industry (-544 000 mT) announced on 28 August by the USDA, which is echoed by adjustments made in Spain (-150 000 mT), in Portugal (-100 000 mT) and in Iran (-350 000 mT), the total of which lowers forecasts for the Mediterranean region by around 500 000 mT. In addition to these changes, adjustments have been made to the Chinese forecasts, which are reduced by 100 000 mT. Finally, despite the adverse conditions which are also affecting Italy, it should be noted that this country has slightly increased its forecasts by +100 000 mT.
A number of other countries in the Northern Hemisphere have also modified their forecasts, though to a lesser extent, with total global processing prospects recorded at 38.19 million mT as of 4 September 2020, which is an increase of 800 000 mT (+2%) as things stand, compared to the results of the 2019 season, and a decrease of 2 to 3% compared to the initial forecasts at the start of the year.
In Portugal, the harvest started slowly with only just over 40% of the target achieved by the end of August. Most factories reached full capacity last week and hope to continue for 3 or 4 weeks, while the harvest could last until mid-October. The weather is good now and the next two weeks look favourable. Farm yields so far have been about 20% lower than usual. Quality is generally good with good colour and average brix of 5.3-5.4. It is difficult to give an accurate forecast but it is likely the total harvest will be lower than expected and probably about 1.2 million tonnes.
In Spain, the harvest is nearly finished in Andalusia with about 90% of the production done and the factories will all close by next week. The first third of the season was very poor but yield was good thereafter but not enough to compensate earlier loss. In Extremadura, the volume is now 57% of the total expected, 65% in Vegas Altas and 45 % in Vegas Baja. The harvest is difficult with low yields and many factories have not reached full capacity a single day this season to date, but fruit quality is good, with good colour and brix. Processing will continue during all of September and probably early October. In the North, full capacity will be reached this week and all is going well although yields are a bit lower than expected.
The forecast for Spain is revised down from 2.9 million tonnes to 2.8 million tonnes.
In France, as of August 30, around 60,000 tonnes, 40% of the expected volume, has been processed, with an average brix of 4.94. While the season is progressing normally in the south-east with good quality and good yields, in the south-west only 10,000 tonnes have been harvested. The season is restarting this week as the gap between early and late plantings due to the catastrophic spring is coming to an end and the weather forecast for the next two weeks is good, however with cool nights that could delay ripening. The harvest of organic crops starts this week in the region. Harvest is expected to continue until October 15-20, and a good September is needed to reach the target.
In the North of Italy, as of 23 August, 1.5 million tonnes had been processed with an average brix of 4.96. There was a lot of rain last weekend and factories stopped for a few days, restarting today or by the end of the week. Till now farm yields have been good. If the weather in September is good and all the tomatoes can be harvested, total production can exceed the 2.55 million tonnes expected and for this reason we increase the forecast to 2.6 million tonnes. Companies are running at full capacity but it will however be difficult to fulfil contracts for dice and pulp due to poor processing yield for these destinations. The government compensation program granted last week for tomatoes not being harvested or processed (measure foreseen in the operational programs within the CMO for fruit and vegetables) will only apply to a few hundred hectares.
In the South of Italy, there was a peak in production during week 34, with more than 400,000 tonnes processed. At the end of august week, about 1.75 million tonnes had already been processed and there are 9,000 hectares left to harvest, this mean a possible final target of 2.5 million tonnes. Consequently, the total forecast for Italy is increased to 5.1 million tonnes but depending on good weather.
Rains last weekend, however, stopped the harvest from Monday until probably tomorrow in Toscana and Lazio but smaller rainfall had no impact on the harvest in Puglia. Production this year concentrates mainly of small packaging, cans and bottle for consumer market, due to shortages, with a smaller production of 3 kg cans. Quality is now better for the production of wholepeel. Prices paid for tomatoes are sometimes higher than contract at 115 to over 125 euros/t for long tomatoes hand harvested to have good quality for producing wholepeel.
In Greece it is a very good season with already 275,000 tonnes processed (63% of forecast). Average yield is over 100 t/ha. Quality and colour are very good with an average brix just below 5. Harvest will finish at the end of the week in the south where 93% of the target has already been processed.
In Hungary, over 50 % of the quantity has been processed to date. Some rain caused short stop of processing. Yields are below the expectations but Brix is good. Total forecast for Hungary is decreased to 85,000 tonnes.
In Ukraine, by 1st September only 30% of the total forecast has been processed, a smaller proportion than usual. Tomatoes are in the fields to achieve the 850,000 tonnes forecast but a good weather is needed until the end of September to mid-October. Fruit quality is good with brix just below 5.
In Tunisia, the processing season is now over with a total of 915,000 tonnes of tomatoes processed, of which 880,000 tonnes for the production of tomato paste and 35,000 tonnes for canning.
In Egypt, the harvest is now at the peak of the summer season with factories running at full capacity in the north, while they are only working small volumes in the Upper Valley as it is too far to transport tomatoes there. Colour and brix are very good. Tomatoes suffered from high humidity last week but quality is now very good.
Paste & Juice recently signed a protocol with local government to plant thousands of acres next year and total production should thus increase next year.
In Turkey, the harvest in now wrapping up in the south area with only small volumes left. It is in full flow in the north and will continue for another month if the weather is favourable. While it tails off, small additional volume will come from the region of Ankara which mainly produces tomatoes for the fresh market. Tomatoes on the spot market are bought at similar prices as contracts. In August there was a high peak when tomatoes form the south and north overlapped, it has now stabilised. The forecast remains unchanged at 2.3 million tonnes.
In Iran, the last estimate is about 1.3 million tonnes. Moreover, the main harvesting season began a week ago.
In South Africa, the estimate for the total tomato production remains the same at 140,000 tonnes for the 2020 season.
In China, at present, 78 companies have started processing. On August 29, the northern part of Xinjiang stopped processing due to rainfall, but processing resumed this week. On August 30, China's Inner Mongolia stopped processing due to rainfall and on September 1st, some towns were affected by hail; the disaster losses are still under investigation. To date, the rainfall in China's tomato planting areas is more than that of the previous year. According to the medium and long-term forecast of China Weather, there will still be precipitation in Xinjiang in the future, which is expected to have a certain impact on production. So far, China has completed 45% of the processing volume. The forecast is adjusted to 5.5 million tonnes, but the overall production will be clearer in the next 15 days. It will not be lower than last year (4.6 million tonnes).
In Japan, the total harvest may decrease to about 25,000 tonnes due to long rain and the lack of sunlight in July.
In California, the estimate is to process 1,017,511 short tons (923,070 metric tonnes) this week. At the end of this week (week ending 5 September) we will have processed 7,126,195 short tons (6,464,775 metric tonnes). Over the next 3-4 days California will experience another heat spell throughout the state. As we have reported earlier, yields in the South continue to perform below contracted levels. In the North, yields continue to perform at contract at this time. The current estimate is for 11.4 million short tons (10.34 million metric tonnes) as reported in the NASS estimate last week.
In Canada, the harvest is approximately 20% complete, with good quality reported. There were some heavy rains this past weekend but good temperatures were expected for the coming week.
In the US Midwest, production is in full gear heading into September. The crop continues to be strong as expected and maturities have continued to advance which has filled in the expected processing gaps from the planting delays in the spring. Cooler weather though is expected for the first half of September which will slow development. Harvest weather has generally been dry allowing for no delays due to weather.
In Brazil, more than 50% has been harvested to date with good yield and quality. The total volume is estimated at 1.18 million tonnes. There are no issues with climate or other external issue.