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Editorial: What troubled times we live in!

22/04/2020 - Martin Stilwell - CoViD-19
In the midst of all the confusion and tragedy we hope and pray that you are all safe and well.
As we listen to and read the daily news and many of our politicians struggle to identify what to choose amongst a number of unpalatable and difficult options, I am reminded of our own past behavior and the titles I gave to each of the 5 years of the typical fluctuations in supply and demand of our Global Tomato Industry.
1. Denial   2. Dismay  3. Despair  4. Optimism and  5. Euphoria 
We have, as an industry, become more disciplined in our “production” decisions, so this typical cycle is breaking down and our Early Global Production Forecast this last January of 39.5 million metric tonnes, suggested that we would have a year with our market in balance and stable with production meeting the predicted demand and covering the crop shortfall of 2019.

However, Covid-19 has been a tragic surprise and January now seems a decade ago!
We are currently faced with a market which changes every day, but there are some emerging patterns of behavior which can assist us in trying to adapt to circumstances.
Consumers in lockdown must cook and eat at home and many of the industries we supply cater to these markets (Credit Suisse)
“Predicting that U.S. packaged food companies' retail sales will grow by an average of 15% to 30% from March to May 2020." The forecast is based on the "massive shift in eating patterns" to more at-home consumption because of quarantine measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, Credit Suisse said. The firm said an industry contact told them food at home likely represents 80% of spending on food today compared to 50% typically. Credit Suisse said Campbell Soup, Conagra Brands and J.M. Smucker could benefit the most from the shift.

Campbell Soup adapting to new environment (CNBC)
"Campbell Soup Co. is doing well, and its food supply and supply chain are holding up well against unprecedented demand" said Mark A. Clouse, chief executive officer. Updating the company’s business as part of a March 24 interview with CNBC, Mr. Clouse painted a positive picture for several key categories. He said Campbell’s soup business in-market consumption data was up 60% in the four-week period ended March 21.
Market research firm Kantar Worldpanel said on Tuesday 31 March that grocery sales in the UK had risen by 20.6% over the last four weeks. The unusually large growth makes March the biggest month on record for grocery sales. “It has been an extraordinary month and social distancing measures have had a profound impact on all our daily lives – from the way we work and socialize, to how we shop and care for our loved ones,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. “Retailers and their staff have been on the frontline as households prepare for an extended stay at home, with grocery sales amounting to £10.8bn during the past four weeks alone” 
Boom solo nel retail,  La Demanda di Pomodoro sale dell’82% (Il Sole 24 Ore, 26/3/2020)
"Pomodoro agran richiesta. Le conserve vegetali registrano um pico di domanda senza precedenti, in Italia e all’estero. Nel nostro Paese solo nella settimana tra il 9 e il 15 Marzo la demanda da parte del comparto retail di conserve “rosse” è cresciuta (dati Nielsen) d’ell 82,2% rispetto all stesso período del 2019."
(“Significant demand for Tomato Products. Preserved Vegetable products have registered an unprecedented peak of demand in Italy and for export. In our country in only one week from the 9th to the 15th of March the retail demand for “red” products have risen by 82,2% (Nielsen data) when compared with the same period of the previous year”)
Sales of “traditional” pasteurized, sterilized or frozen tomato products or products with tomatoes as a key ingredient have surged to unprecedented levels, with Home deliveries of ready-made Pizza being similarly strong, just as sales to Restaurants, Hotels, School-meals and Catering Business’ have shrunk dramatically.
Over the next two weeks, we will look at emerging data which could help us manage our decisions over the next year.
Wishing all of you and your families well,
Take care and Keep safe,

Martin Stilwell
Tomato News SAS President  





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