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Polish tomato exports slowly recovering

The Polish tomato sector is recovering after the Russian embargo. According to data from the Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics, the average price of greenhouse tomatoes in the period from April to September 2016 amounted to 3.35 złoty/kg (about 0.78 euros) and was 3 percent higher than in the same period last year.

Interestingly, while in the second quarter of 2016 the price of tomatoes was 2.5 percent lower than the annual average, in the third quarter the price of greenhouse tomatoes increased by 14 percent, to 2.35 złoty/kg (about 0.54 euros). Moreover, the price increase was recorded despite a fairly substantial increase in the supply of open ground tomatoes.

"This increase in prices can be linked to the recovery of exports of greenhouse tomatoes," stresses Magdalena Kowalewska, expert analyst of the agricultural markets at BGZ BNP Paribas. "In the first seven months of this year, a total of 54.3 thousand tonnes of tomatoes were exported, which is 11 percent more than in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Between January and July 2016, the main recipients of Polish tomatoes were Belarus (25.1 thousand tonnes), the United Kingdom (5.8 thousand tonnes), and interestingly also Spain (3.4 thousand tonnes), which has imported almost three times more tomatoes than in the corresponding period last year. This is all the more surprising, given that Spain is a major exporter of tomatoes in the EU.

It is worth noting that exports clearly accelerated by the end of the period, particularly in Spain. Data from Eurostat show that in July the sale of tomatoes from Poland to that country grew by almost 4 times. According to information from the Association of Cooperatives of Extremadura (Acopaex), this year, due to heavy storms in the region of Extremadura, about 1,000 hectares of tomato crops have been destroyed, which resulted in about a 10 percent drop in the production compared to the previous season. Extremadura and Andalusia are Spain's largest tomato producers.

It is also worth noting that the volume of exports to the UK in the first seven months of the year has increased by 17 percent. This is mainly due to the fact that the UK has significantly reduced its import of tomatoes from the Netherlands (10.3 thousand tonnes), which in 2015 was the UK's second largest supplier of tomatoes.

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