Meager end to 2020 tomato year

With the cold weather in Spain, tomato prices skyrocketed in early 2021. Not bad for those growers who are in production elsewhere. Towards the holidays at the end of 2020, prices were not bad due to good demand. Nevertheless, a glance at the figures shows that the end of the tomato year 2020 was somewhat 'meager', with a price that was lower on average in the Netherlands and Spain, among others, than in the past five years.

Across the board in Europe, based on the European Commission's tomato dashboard with figures up to week 53, the traditional price peak in December did not materialise. The red line in the graph below remains at the level of November, after another serious peak in October.

Without a doubt, corona plays a role. In December, the corona measures became stricter again in more and more countries, causing a further blow to the catering and food service sectors, and growers saw their sales market disappear or at least seriously shrink. Especially for loose tomatoes, with traditionally more catering sales, a new setback in an already difficult year.

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Line game
2020 was also a special year, with massive hoarding when corona really hit Europe in March and also a free fall of the Moroccan tomato imports. The summer period was nothing to write home about price-wise, after which the aforementioned price spike followed in October, partly due to extreme heat and lower productions. The difficult summer period as well as the peak in October can be seen in the European average.

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If we then look at the situation per country, whereby it is important at all times to realize that these are averages and the situation may differ per tomato segment, then the lines in Spain may well be the least traditional, in that the red line for 2020 was quite different from the green line of the five-year average.

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For December, the average price is below that of 2019 and that of the five-year average. The recurring (slight) price increase in December did not materialize this year. In fact, with an average (admittedly only) one euro cent, the price was even lower than in November. And that while the start of the Spanish season was still good (although dumping and protests soon followed all over the greenhouse vegetable line).

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In the Netherlands, the country with the small margins, the lines are closer together all year round. Traditionally, rising prices could also be seen here in the corona year 2020 towards the holidays, with growers using lights in production and growers without in the crop rotation. The five-year average will not be equaled in 2020. However, the average price is slightly higher than that at the end of 2019. With an average price above the five-year average since August, the fear of a 'grey season' does not seem to have come true, although individual growers may think differently about this based on their sales markets.

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Finally, if we look at Italy and France, the two other countries in the dashboard, it is striking that there are no figures for France in December. The tomato acreage is limited, especially given the size of France, and the production under lights is even smaller.

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In Italy, December ended with an average price below the five-year average. However, the price was continuously significantly higher from August than in 2019.


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