The industrial tomato harvest in California is estimated at 10.48 million (short) MT which is close to August’s USDA forecast of 10.5 million MT, according to the latest figures released by the Processing Tomato Advisory Board (PTAB).
The volume is 2.5% down compared with the previous year and -5% against the 2019-2021 average. The crop is 14% lower than the USDA January’s forecast of 12.2 million MT which mirrored processors’ production intentions ahead of the start of the season. The season started a bit later than in 2021 with lower volumes until September when deliveries to factories started to pick-up to then fall sharply ahead of October as heavy rains slowed down harvesting.
The reduced production has caused prices to increase due to higher raw material costs (+25% y/y) and a consistent contraction in stocks. Total inventories of processed tomatoes in the US were in the range of 3.3 million MT in June 2022, down 4% y/y and -29% compared with June 2020. Processors estimate that stocks will remain on the low side well into 2023 as production was below expectations.