Because of the large production area used for tomatoes, the Union of the Paimpol and Tréguier cooperatives (Côtes-d’Armor) have noted an early congestion of the market. It is the worst tomato crisis in 45 years.
The union of cooperatives points out two reasons for this crisis. “First of all, the production area is too large, which destabilizes the market,” says Gilbert Brouder, president of the union. “There are 40 ha more in 2018 in France.” In 2016, there were 2,298 ha, whether in greenhouses or outdoors. UCPT has been counting 120 ha for several years. All of this represents 58,000 t of products.
The price of sales is affected. It is “0.5 €/kg [0.25 USD/lb] with packaging, while producers ask for 0.90 € [0.45 USD],” explains the president. Added to this, of course, are the costs of labor and heating.
Organic farming could be a solution to get out of this crisis. “It pushes for crop rotation,” says Gilbert Brouder. “We would also have to question organic farming under shelter and planting tomatoes in the winter if we want some in April and May, which is now what customers are used to.”
It is important to note that 650,000 t of fruits and vegetables are currently produced organically by members of the union and many farmers are in the process of converting. The problem with this is that in France, it takes two years to convert to organic while in Spain and elsewhere in Europe, it only takes six months.