Normally, there is not a consistent supply of tomatoes in Almeria until the end of October or the beginning of November, although the Murcia-based company Grupo Paloma, aiming to fulfil its commitments with some of its customers, starts making the first shipments in September.
"During the months of October, November and December, the tomato campaign has developed normally, with good volumes and good quality, and although prices have not been high, the demand has remained stable," says David Franco, of the commercial department of Grupo Paloma. "With the start of January, the campaign took a turn due to the drop in temperatures, which limited the production of tomatoes and other vegetables, both in greenhouses and in the open ground," he adds.
"The drop in the production was perhaps more pronounced in the case of round tomatoes, while for the other tomato varieties we have managed to keep the supply stable. This resulted in occasional price peaks, which helped bring the average price up. In general, however, this campaign has not been one with high prices. Since week 5, we have seen a recovery of production volumes back to the usual levels, since we had two weeks with very good temperatures in Murcia. This week, we will take advantage of our meetings with customers at Fruit Logistica to facilitate a smooth transition between the first and the second parts of the campaign. We have very good prospects for the months of February and March, since we will have sufficient volumes with good quality, which we hope will translate into good demand," explains David Franco.
Prices are not expected to rise in the coming weeks, but are likely to be unstable, due, in part, to competition from third countries such as Morocco and Turkey. "However, this recovery in the production will cause the large European distribution chains to change the focus of their programs to Spain, since imports from third countries won't longer be necessary. If we manage to offer continuity in our supply, European importers prefer Spanish tomatoes because of the logistical advantages, their better quality selection and good service."
The company produces and exports a wide range of tomatoes, from round loose and on the vine to plum tomatoes; medium and small tomatoes and specialty varieties. Its harvest calendar covers the period from September to June. "Since we are fully focused on the European export markets, we do not produce during the summer months. In the domestic market, it is also increasingly normal to find tomatoes from other origins, such as the Netherlands and Poland, on the supermarket shelves."
"Each market has its priorities and demands the tomatoes that best suit its needs. The trend, however, is moving towards greater varietal development in medium and small tomatoes, such as cherry or cocktail, due to the rising demand for them. The big distribution chains are coming to terms with the fact that the consumer is increasingly interested in tomatoes with added value, without them always necessarily having to be premium varieties. They simply want them to bring something unique to the table. Every year we try about 200 new varieties in our test fields," says David Franco.
Grupo Paloma's commercial team will be present this week in Berlin. You can find them in Hall 11.2, stand B-15.