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Imports of tomato products

23/11/2023 - François-Xavier Branthôme - Architecture of Trade - Lire en français
Despite a slight slowdown, year-on-year tomato paste imports are up on all the usual periods of reference. Imports of canned tomatoes recorded one of the longest declines in their history, while imports of sauces continued to increase.

The most recent complete data (July 2023) available for all the world's TOP20(*) tomato paste importing countries shows that, despite a slight slowdown that can be explained by the approaching end of the marketing year (when available quantities drop and/or buyers wait for products from the new processing season), the quantities recorded over 12 months are up on all the usual periods of reference (corresponding period of the previous year, the three previous years, and pre-Covid).

For tomato pastes (HS code 200290) (see our related articles below), imports from the TOP20 countries in July 2023 amounted to just over 123,000 tonnes (metric, t), slightly down on the monthly average for the previous twelve months (138,000 t). However, the total for the period running August 2022-July 2023 was 1.658 million t, up more than 8% on the result for August 2021-July 2022 (1.53 million t) and up almost 17% on the average of the previous three years (1.422 million t).

A comparison of the current year's monthly operations with those of the years preceding the Covid health crisis also places the quantities imported last July by the TOP20 at a level 10% higher than the average recorded over the months of July 2017, 2018 and 2019. It should be noted, however, that this gap, which widened to over 30% between June and September 2022, has been gradually narrowing in recent months. It will be interesting to monitor this parameter to see whether the arrival on the market of new products from the 2023 harvest maintains, or even revives, the momentum created during the confinements, or whether the easing of tensions brought about by the good results of the 2023 harvest in terms of meeting demand will result in a slowdown in the coming months.

For the time being, and in comparison with pre-Covid activity, three results are worth highlighting, which relate precisely to significant acceleration in the pace of paste imports over the period running August 2022-July 2023 : in the United Kingdom, supplies rose by 58,500 t (+38%); Dutch imports over the period rose by 45,400 t (+37%); finally, paste deliveries to Germany rose by 48,400 t (+19%). For all other countries, with the exception of Côte d'Ivoire (-8%), import quantities rose by between a few hundred and a few thousand tonnes.

Annual trends in the quantities delivered to the main importing countries in each of the three product categories (paste, canned tomatoes and sauces) are presented in detail in our monthly statistical report published on the Tomato News website.

As shown in our latest monthly update for imports of canned tomatoes (HS codes 200210) and in our recent article on Italian foreign trade over the last marketing year, quantities delivered to the seven main countries importing canned tomatoes have fallen sharply since November 2022 (see also the articles and additional information at the end of this article). This slowdown, which is also confirmed by the update of the category's worldwide exports, is noticeable in six of the seven markets observed (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK), with the Netherlands being a notable exception to the general trend. At 1.023 million t for the period August 2022-July 2023, the quantities absorbed by the TOP7 countries were 4% lower than for the corresponding period last year (1.063 million t) and 3% lower than for the three previous years (1.053 million t).
These 7 countries represented almost 65% of the sector's overall imports on average over the last five years, the other 35% being distributed among approximately 105 countries.

The quantities of sauces (HS code 210320) delivered to four of the category's five main importing countries (Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom) were down by several hundred to several thousand tonnes on the previous year and on the average of the previous three years. US supplies, on the other hand, recorded a sharp increase. These five markets account for just under half of the quantities absorbed at a worldwide level. It is important to note that after the global sauces trade threshold was increased due to the health crisis, and despite occasional variations over a limited period of time, the steady upward trend of the worldwide trade in sauces continues unabated.

Some complementary data
(*) : The TOP20 countries importing tomato pastes include the following : Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and United Kingdom.

Comparative trends in TOP7 imports of canned tomatoes in recent years.

Related results are presented in the 2023 Tomato News Yearbook which is now available for reading directly on our site here, or in the paper copy you may order here.

Sources: Trade Data Monitor
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