- François-Xavier Branthôme
Average agricultural yields for processing tomatoes have increased by 60% over the past twenty years. It was close to 52 metric tonnes per hectare (mT/ha) worldwide in 1997, but average productivity amounted to about 83 mT last year. The annual growth rate over the past twenty processing seasons has been close to 2.4%. If this growth rate were to continue, average worldwide yields would amount to almost 100 mT/ha in less than ten years.
The worldwide industry has not yet reached that point, with performances ranging on average for the two-year period 2015-2017 and according to each country, from less than 40 mT/ha to close on 107 mT/ha. Varietal improvement, controlled management of resources and inputs, drip irrigation, good cultural practices were the keys to this impressive evolution.
The top three places of the worldwide ranking for 2015-2017 in terms of processing tomato productivity are claimed by California (close on 107 mT/ha, or 47.7 short tonnes per acre), Australia (99 mT/ha) and Canada (more than 93 mT/ha). Chile ranks fourth, worldwide, with 92 mT/ha, ahead of Ukraine (90 mT/ha). Coming in under the symbolic threshold of 90 mT/ha, Spain (with slightly less than 88 mT/ha) and Portugal (slightly more than 87 mT/ha) logically rank close together, ahead of South Africa (85 mT/ha). Three other countries also recorded yields above 80 tonnes: New Zealand and China ranked almost neck and neck around the global average for the period, estimated at 83 mT/ha, with Greece slightly behind them with a productivity of close on 81 mT/ha.
With slightly more than 77 mT/ha, Italy ranks 12th, worldwide, ahead of Hungary (77.1 mT/ha). Brazil, Morocco and Russia recorded performances that are very similar, at 75 mT/ha, in front of Turkey (73 mT/ha), France (72 mT/ha) and Mexico (70 mT/ha).
The yields of other US states (Michigan, Indiana, Ohio) came in under the threshold of 70 mT/ha (31 sT/acre), like those recorded in Argentina (close on 66 mT/ha), Tunisia (63 mT/ha) and Algeria (60 mT/ha).
The fastest growth rate was recorded by this last country. Algerian yields were very low ten years ago, but have grown at an average annual rate of 9% over the past twenty years. Similarly remarkable growth rates have been recorded in Tunisia and Argentina, mainly based on a notable improvement in agricultural yields. The Canadian industry has seen its productivity increase at about 4.5% per year since 1997, while Argentinian yields grew at a rate of 4% per year over the same period. Spain and China also improved their agricultural performances at a fairly fast rate – respectively 3.4% and 3.3% per year over the past twenty harvest seasons.
Some complementary data
Source: WPTC World Production Database