- François-Xavier Branthôme
Processed tomatoes are losing ground to "fresh tomato" consumption
According to data collected and updated in December 2022 by the FAO, total world tomato production for both processing and fresh consumption in 2021 amounted to just over 189.1 million metric tonnes, up 2% from the 184.8 million mT grown in 2020 and 4% from the average (182.7 million mT) of the previous three years (2018-2020).
According to these figures, annual tomato production has reached or exceeded the million-tonne threshold in a large number of countries. With about 1.1 million mT, Cameroon and Indonesia produced three times less than Iran (3.4 million mT) and six times less than Italy (6.6 million mT). Turkish production (13 million mT) was double that of Italy, but represented only one fifth of China's crop (67 million mT), which alone accounted for nearly 36% of the worldwide harvest.
In radically different growing conditions from those of processing tomatoes, record yields have been recorded for fresh tomatoes in the Netherlands and Poland. Apart from those countries, the highest productivity was achieved by Portugal, the USA and Morocco, ahead of Spain, Turkey and Brazil. At a global level, the yield was about the same as in 2020, at 36.6 mT/ha.
FAO data also shows a significant difference in the growth rates of the two sectors, with a clear advantage for the cultivation of tomatoes for the fresh market. Over the last 30 years (1991-2021), production of tomatoes for raw consumption has grown at an average annual rate (CAGR) of 3.5%, while the average annual growth of production for processing has been just 1.85%. Over a shorter period, from 2001 to 2021, the growth rates were slower, close to 3% for fresh market tomatoes and 2.6% for processing tomatoes. Over the past decade (2011-2021), production for the fresh market continued to grow at a rate (CAGR) of over 2%, while production in the sector for processing grew at an annual rate of 0.4%, just barely positive.
Some complementary data
According to FAO figures, the proportion of processing tomatoes in the total worldwide tomato production has decreased from about 30% in the 1990s to about 20% in recent years.