European tomato prices hold up well in March

Tomato prices in the Netherlands were twice as high as usual in March. On average, a kilo fetched €2.82, according to the European Commission's tomato dashboard. Tomato prices in other Member States are also high. However, in March, in line with the five-year averages, there was something of a price decrease, at least in the Netherlands and also in Belgium. The real drop in prices seems to come later this season. The market fears a heavy price decrease after Easter.

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Across the board, in the European Union, this was not yet the case in March. The average price per kilo even rose slightly to 2.15 euros. This is a slight increase, in line with the five-year average.

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Italy and the Netherlands are also following the trend of the past five years, albeit with much higher price levels than in the past five years. In Italy, the kilo price is below the European Union average, in the Netherlands, it is well above. For Italy this means that in March prices fell slightly more than last year and were 25% above the five-year average.

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In the Netherlands, the price was twice as high and also fell a few percent less from February to March than the average for the past five years.

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In Spain, in the past five years, the price sometimes rose slightly in March, on average by one percent compared to February. This did not happen this year. However, the price per kilo was maintained at an average of 67% higher in March than in the past five years.

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France is always the country with the highest kilo price on the dashboard. At 3.83, the kilogram price here is 39% higher than the average for the past five years in March.

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Belgium is not included in the dashboard, but figures from the Federation of Belgian Horticultural Cooperatives (VBT) show that in March prices were, as in Holland, very much above the five-year average. There is no real decline in prices yet either. In previous years, the price started to drop seriously from roughly mid-March onwards. This year, there is no question of that. Last week, the clock price for vine tomatoes even rose slightly, with Easter on the way. Particularly in the case of vine tomatoes, it is noticeable that the numbers supplied in recent weeks are still half those of last year. For loose tomatoes, the percentage is lower, but here too, the numbers supplied are not yet at the same level as last year. In week 14, for example, the supply of vine tomatoes was down by 45% and that of loose tomatoes by 39%. In previous weeks, the percentage for vine tomatoes was often even below 50%.

What happens after Easter, when more and more productions are well underway, worries the market. Unlike other years, more productions seem to come on the market at the same time, because of the postponement of cultivations due to the energy crisis. However, nobody seems to know exactly what is going to happen. If there was a 'road map for the tomato trade', it has been thrown into disarray during the pandemic period and now also in times of virus and energy problems.

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