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2020 opening prices in Italy: a marked increase

21/10/2020 - François-Xavier Branthôme - Architecture of Trade - Lire en français
On 9 October, the Parma Chamber of Commerce resumed its price quotations for tomato products from the recent 2020 season.

Quotations in euros for products from the 2020 season indicate price increases that range from 4% to almost 16%, depending on the category considered. The overall increase confirms the tensions that have been observed with regard to supply, while the still provisional results of the worldwide harvest for 2020 remain unlikely to satisfy consumption demand, taking account of current stocks.

For the Rosso Gargano company, “demand for processed tomatoes exceeds supply, and the future of the tomato industry after the pandemic will be characterized by a change in the price of finished products. The current marketing year is coming to an end, and industrial costs are higher due to lower yields.”
In line with an opinion shared by a number of industrial sources, Giuseppe Stasi, sales director for Rosso Gargano, explained that “the real problem will be meeting the demand from the retail channels, considering that demand exceeds the quantities of product available. This year, the processing tomato season in Apulia was characterized by aspects that were hard to predict, caused by the pandemic during the initial transplanting phase. There was a delay in transplanting operations, so the entire production calendar was shifted; then there were water supply problems and a loss of produce due to the rain and hail in early August. Yields per hectare were halved. This means demand will exceed supply.

Quotations for this month of October 2020 are almost perfectly in line with the consolidation recorded over the last three seasons, taking the price level of Italian double-concentrated CB paste (for example) to more than EUR 860/tonne, which is almost 8% above the opening price of October 2019 and almost 15% above the average of the three previous “opening quotations”.

The consolidation of prices for tomato products throughout Europe is reassuring for the future, even if the levels reached are sometimes lower than the best prices recorded in 2014 and 2008, and even if it is expressed in a context of rising costs, both for agricultural production and for the processing industry. Nevertheless, at the threshold of a marketing year that may or may not be a driver of consumption and therefore of profit – it is difficult to know, several industrial sources consider that the improvement, although not spectacular in terms of profitability, offers consolidation opportunities to better take up the challenges of the coming seasons.

In any case, the combination of the various commercial, industrial and agricultural parameters that constitute the current positive price dynamics in a context that will likely see increasing demand and relatively measured production, suggests that the worldwide industry is about to end the 2020 season in one of its “optimistic” phases of the cycle described by Martin Stilwell (see below and our article in the appendix). Many unknown factors and mere suppositions remain regarding the progression and outcome of the 2020/2021 marketing year, which is nonetheless starting, it seems, on a more satisfactory basis in terms of prices than in past years. Now is the right time to implement the lessons learned from previous similar episodes.

Some complementary data
Expression in USD of the annual opening quotations in Italy

Martin Stilwell's cycle describing the production/consumption balance
Based on the presentation given by Martin Stilwell at the Avignon Tomato News conference in May 2019

Source: Camera Commercio Parma
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