Tomato prices drop earlier and harder, but remain unusually high

After huge peaks in February, Dutch tomato prices were expected to fall in March. That drop was even harder than 'normal,' but the Netherlands still recorded the highest tomato price of the major EU tomato countries. That is according to the European Commission's tomato dashboard.

Across the board, in March, a kilo of tomatoes sold for an average €2.15. That was similar to last year's prices, which were also very high.

Last month, Dutch tomato prices fell harder than usual compared to February. That sank from €4.63/kg in February, when there was hardly any local tomato supply, to €3.42/kg in March. A decrease of 26% from February, when prices declined, on average, 19% over the past five years.

Prices dropped by an average of 19% across the European Union. In contrast, over the past five years, in March, the market was used to a slight four percent increase. So, last month was unlike any other, which has been the case since the pandemic began.

In Spain, the price shrank even more in March by 31%. Unlike in the Netherlands, where a price drop in March is typical, in Spain, tomato prices traditionally rise by about four percent. With an average tomato price of €1.83/kg - equal to the March 2022 peak price - that country's price is below the EU average.

The €2.25/kg price remained above the five-year price ceiling in Italy. That fell in March too, and at 11%, slightly harder than the usual seven percent. 

Last month, France's first local tomatoes sold for quite a lot less than in March 2022. They were priced on average €2.40/kg, while in 2022, it was €3.83.

More imports, fewer exports
The tomato market was tight this winter and early spring. Compared to last winter and the five-year average, the European Union imported more and slightly more than in February. Morocco is a major supplier. Turkey sent a bit more tomatoes than last year too.

Despite the shortages, there were also exports. Like last winter, less than the five-year average, but more in March 2023 than a year before. Exports to places like the UK - where the energy crisis also hit local tomato productions hard - picked up last month, as evidenced by an increase in export volumes going there.

In February, EU exports were down from the same time in 2022.

You can see these graphs enlarged here.

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