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WPTC: 2021 crop estimated at 38.7 million tonnes

26/10/2021 - WPTC , Sophie Colvine - 2021 Season
The preliminary results of the 2021 season as communicated by industry operators during a WPTC meeting on 21 October 2021 establish the world production estimate at 38.7 million metric tonnes, only 300,000 tonnes or 0.9% higher than the 2020 final production.

While production increased by 1.5 million tonnes (8%) in the AMITOM region and particularly in the European Union (+16%), it reduced in the other WPTC members in the northern hemisphere and notably in California (-6%) and in China (-17%) while increasing in the Southern Hemisphere (+23%) where production is also forecast to further increase in 2022.  

AMITOM countries 

Tomato processing takes place over nearly 300 days of the year, and it is expected that 440,000 tonnes will be harvested in total in 2021. Quality and yields have been good during the summer season which finished in September. The winter season with tomatoes from the Nile area started at the middle of October. 
With a final volume processed of 164,000 tonnes, the initial forecast of 185,000 tonnes was not reached (90% of the target). The reduction was notable for the organic crop for which production which only reached 80% of the target (20,978 tonnes when 26,000 tonnes were expected). Most of the losses were due to bad weather in the south-west region, where the weather was often cool and very wet, with a total rainfall of 500 mm during the season. The south-east had a good season although processing was also totally stopped during a full week in September due to rain. Planted surfaces were raised to 2,559 hectares this year from 2,217 ha in 2020, and organic surfaces from 392 to 566 hectares.
Although the 2021 season started well, final production is 9 % lower than the initial forecast of 460,000 tonnes to only 420,000 tonnes. Some transplants were lost in April due to frost. June and July were the hottest in the last ten years with very high night temperatures, and two heatwaves in July and August with temperatures of up to 45°C resulted in loss of flowers, softening of fruits and loss of yield. 
The harvest finished at the end of September with a final volume processed of 115,000 tonnes, higher than the initial estimate of 100,000 tonnes. The good end of season enabled to recover the losses on the early crop. Fruit quality was good with an average brix of 5, the highest in the last few years, and the average farm yield 79 t/ha from the 1,450 hectares planted. Farmer’s profitability is low and other crops (notably corn) are more attractive for growers who also face rapidly raising input material costs so further raw tomato price increases are expected for 2022. 
The final 2021 production is higher than earlier estimates at 6.05 million tonnes from 71,217 hectares.  The increase is largely due to a very good season in the north, where production reached 3.09 million tonnes, more than the volumes of the contracts, which never happened before. The weather was good, despite some localised hailstorms. Average farm yield from the 38,621 hectares planted was just over 80 t/ha. Average brix was 4.88. The second half of the crop was particularly good. 
In the south, after a bad 2020 crop, this was also a very good season and probably the best in last ten years years with an average of 90.87 t/ha from 32,596 hectares, for a final production of 2.96 million tonnes. The only issues were in Caserta early in the season with low temperatures. In Puglia, there was enough water in the Occhito reservoir, so the region achieved very good yield per hectare. Fruit quality was very good, with high brix and good factory yields. 
The official productions figures are not available as we go to press but final production is estimated at 1.596 million tonnes with an average field yield estimated at 103 t/ha. Altogether it was a very nice crop with good quality and colour, with an average brix of 5.1. There were no major issues with the weather throughout the season.
The final production was 523,000 tonnes versus an initial forecast of 550,000 tonnes. The average field yield was 90 t/ha and quality was good with an average brix over 4.5. 
There were uncertainties at the start of the season as price negotiations were tough after a bad campaign in 2020, and farmers received only a 40% water allocation in Andalusia. In the end, it is estimated that the price of raw materials increased by +11% on average and more surfaces than expected were planted. During the season, the weather was nice in July and August, producing high yields and good quality and colour. Later, there were several episodes of heavy rains in September in all regions. This led to a complex end of campaign with many days when farmers were not able to harvest, and some tomato left on the fields. In the north, there were severe blight attacks after the rains which caused considerable damages, and an estimated 15% of losses. The last factories are now closing in the north. It is currently estimated that 3.185 million tonnes of tomatoes were processed in Spain from a planted surface of 34,100 hectares with an average yield of 93 t/ha.
A total surface of 17,000 hectares was planted with tomatoes in 2021, up from 16,500 hectares in 2020, but farm yields dropped 15% due to a heatwave from 10 June to end August to an average of 63 t/ha (75 t/ha in 2020), so total production was 1.1 million tonnes. Some tomatoes were as usual sold on the fresh market and the volume processed in 25 factories with total daily capacity of 36,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes was 938,000 tonnes, of which 926,000 tonnes to produce double concentrate and 12,000 tonnes to produce canned tomatoes. 
The total volume of double concentrate produced was 138,000 tonnes, nearly all directly into cans, and 7,000 tonnes of canned tomatoes.
It was a long season. In the south, the very hot weather caused some loss of tonnage at the start of the season and some tomatoes left in the fields due to a lack of transport and manpower at the end of the season. In the north, some tomatoes were sold on the fresh market to be exported (to Syria notable) and spot prices for the 40% of the crop which was not contracted increased. The harvest however finished in October with a higher final volume than initially expected, at an estimated at 2.2 million tonnes. 
The season was challenging from the start because of a cold and wet spring. The harvest started late in August and although it started reasonably well with good quality fruits, the field yield was lower than expected so the forecast was reduced from 850,000 tonnes to 820,000 tonnes. Processing is not yet finished at the time of writing and hopefully should reach 800,000 tonnes. Quality is average.

Other countries

2021 will be remembered for Weather, Disease and Water! The original January estimate was for 12.1 million short tons (10.97 million metric tonnes), but it was reduced to 11.6 million short tons (10.523 million metric tonnes) in May mainly due to issues with water. In the south most growers had to rely exclusively on well water. The surface was expected to be 240,000 acres in January but only 229,000 acres were planted. A very warm spring, some disease pressure, and hot weather in the summer further reduced the size of the crop and the August estimate was 11.1 million tonnes (10.07 million metric tonnes). The harvest will trickle until first part of November for a couple of processors but a total of only 10.7 million short tons (9.65 million metric tonnes) is now expected. The average yield was 46.73 tons per acre (116,8 t/ha), better up north than in the centre and in the south were 60% of tonnage are normally grown.
For 2022, water is going to be the big issue. Some rain is currently forecast in the north but biblical levels are needed this winter to fill the reservoirs which are currently very low. One of the issues is also the shift of one million acre from row to permanent crops between 2010 to 2020: these fields are given priority for water over annual crops like tomatoes. 
The forecast was 541,000 short tons (450,000 metric tonnes), an increase from 2020. The season sounded promising but ended disappointing. It started well but excess rain and heat led to significant losses in some areas due to flooding and diseases, so the total crop ended at 85% of target at 478,000 short tons (433,000 metric tonnes), close to 2020 final production. Yields were down from historical levels, but fruit quality was generally good, in terms of solids and colour. A higher contract volume is expected in 2022. 
In 2021, the volume processed was 4.8 million metric tonnes, the same as the forecast. The number of factories was basically the same as that for the 2020 crop, but raw materials has been reduced by 1 million tonnes and because of the competition for raw materials, the price of tomatoes increased by 10 to 15%. Due to the low temperatures, the transplanting was delayed by 5-7 days. The weather during the harvest period was basically normal. There was no obvious processing peak during the crop, and the whole crop is relatively stable. Due to climate reasons and harvest of many immature fruits as processors were competing to get tomatoes, the quality of products is slightly lower than that in 2020, especially colour and Bostwick. 
The distribution of the production by region was as follows:
•       2.73 million tonnes in Northern Xinjiang
•       1.09 million tonnes in Southern Xinjiang
•       50,000 tonnes in Gansu
•       0.93 million tonnes in Inner Mongolia
The supply will be tight this year and a number of factors should lead to a price increase next year (cost of freight, of packaging, of energy, covid, exchange rate, ...).
A total volume of 30,000 tonnes was processed in 2021, lower than the initial estimate due to heavy rain during the first half of August. 

USA Midwest
Shortly after pack started it became clear part of the Midwest would harvest more tomatoes than forecasted. The 2021 fresh pack will be remembered as one of the highest tonnage packs in recent years as growers were able to harvest record yields along with high fruit quality most of pack. This continued to develop over pack to surpass the pre-pack tonnage projection to an estimated 462,000 metric tonnes (510,000 short tons). This tonnage increase was good to overcome the acreage lost to hurricane IDA. Processors worked together to help growers bring in their whole crop to account for the areas that were short. This also meant there was a search for additional warehouse space, cans, bottles, and of course lids. Temperatures remained favourable throughout pack, although there were challenging periods, and notably rain and a great amount of mud towards the end of pack. Growers overcame these conditions to harvest their final loads of tomatoes, at times hooking tractors to each other and even pushing trailers with large tractors to manoeuvre through muddy conditions.

Southern hemisphere


In 2021, there was a record production of 594,572 tonnes from 7,336 hectares. Yields are increasing in Argentina notably in San Juan an average of 110 t/ha was achieved this year from 2,250 hectares. These final country crop results indicated the highest volume attained in all the argentine history of processing tomatoes. This number is attributed to a fair climate in combination to a better application of field technologies advised and generated from the Asociacion Tomate 2000. 
For the 2022 season, 7,500 hectares should be planted, up from 7,331 hectares in 2021, an increase of 5 to 7 % mainly in the San Juan region. Total production should reach 600,000 tonnes, which would be a record, but not enough to cover the domestic consumption estimated at 750,000 tonnes, so 20,000 to 22,000 tonnes of paste will still need to be imported, mainly from Chile. About 40% of the surfaces have been planted to date, with a small delay due to some frosts affecting nurseries a couple of weeks ago. La Nina continues and a dry summer is expected, and shortage of water are possible mainly in San Juan although most of the surfaces are drip irrigated.
The Australian 2021 processing tomato season finished in the third week of April 2021 and saw a total delivery of approximately 230,000 payable metric tonnes to processors, of which 2,731 tonnes was organic. Apart from experiencing wind damage in November 2020 and a generalised heavy rain event in March 2021, the season was considered to be relatively ideal for growing, with only mild foliar disease pressure and absence of extreme heat events. Gross yields varied from 50 t/ha on the aforementioned wind affected areas to approximately 200 t/ha on the some of the highest yielding blocks. Brix levels were ideally high early, however dipped toward the end of the season, especially after the March rain event. 
The forecast for 2022 is 2,488 hectares and 267,974 metric tonnes, including 3,000 tonnes of organic tomatoes and 280 tonnes of cherry tomatoes. There is good water availability for the season. About 1000 hectares have been planted to date. Rain has delayed planting for up to ten days for some growers but also assisted the establishment of transplants on some lighter soils. Growers preparing for potentially higher disease pressure.
The surfaces planted for the 2021 season were increased from 14,505 hectares in 2020 to 16,030 hectares as some factories were reactivated to supply the domestic market as imports of tomato pulp were more expensive due to the devaluation of the real compared to the US dollar. While production was expected at up t 1.57 million tonnes after a good start of the season due to good early yields of 95 t/ha on average, the preliminary early figure estimate 2021 production at 1.35 million tonnes. It is expected that the surfaces planted in 2022 will increase further to over 17,000 hectares.
The final volume of production for 2021 was 1,174,000 metric tonnes from 12,230 hectares. Despite rain at the beginning of the harvest in January and February, which affected the final yield and reduced slightly the total volume, it was a very good year. Estimated average field yield was about 95 t/ha at country level, when it could have been above 100 t/ha. 
The main issue for the 2022 season remains the water availability, and some regions are under an emergency drought order. The surface equipped for drip irrigation has increased again and now represents about 90% of the tomato fields. The surfaces planted will be reduced by about 10% and the current forecast is 1.05 million metric tonnes.
Final 2021 production was 120,000 tonnes from 900 hectares, and a similar volume is expected in 2022. 
South Africa
In 2021, a total of only 125,000 tonnes fresh tomatoes was processed with a volume of 40,000 tonnes, as forecast during the summer season (January to April) in Western Cape and 85,000 tonnes during the winter season (May to September) in Limpopo, 15% below forecast as the Musina area had tomato damage due to excessive rainfall and white fly infestation. One processor did not contract pre-season and bought all tomatoes on the spot market. 
A total of 140,000 tonnes is expected in 2022 (with 40,000 tonnes for the summer season and 100,000 tonnes for the winter season).
WPTC world production estimate:
WPTC world production estimate as of 21 October 2021 rev
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