The start of the 2017/18 tomato season began late, especially the branch type, as a consequence of the delay in transplanting. The aim of a later transplant is to reduce the risk of viruses and reduce consumption of irrigation water. A later start to production leads to the shortening of the period of overlap between Dutch and Spanish tomato seasons, favouring prices in the first part of the campaign. In fact, the average prices of tomatoes in October, November and December were higher than those obtained in the two previous seasons. The highest price of the campaign was recorded in December, at €0.90/kg.
Average monthly prices for Spanish tomatoes (2015-2017)
Source: EU Price Observatory
Since then, prices have fallen progressively month by month. In January and February, short-cycle tomato plantations start in the Níjar region with the transplanting of a spring crop. In March, the commercial quality of tomatoes decreases, as a result of high humidity levels and other adverse environment-related conditions, such as fungal diseases like Alternaria. This translates into a fall in revenues for the farmer. At the end of March, spring transplants gradually entered production, but the majority of supply corresponded still to autumn crops.In April, prices were still low. The atypical spring weather conditions especially affected the single-cycle tomato plantations, with a very reduced production from the point of view of quality.
The Netherlands and Belgium are the main competitors at this stage of the campaign, although at the end of April, countries such as Germany have also begun to supply. In May the start of long-cycle plantations began, often before the usual dates as a result of the prices and the state of the crop.
The period of tomato exports to the EU under quota begins on October 1 (Week 40) and continues until May 31 (Week 22). The total quota for the 2017/18 campaign amounts to 285,000 tons, maintaining the figure of the previous campaign. The consumption of practically the entire available quota has been repeated from campaign to campaign.
The prices of all commercial types of tomatoes are at an intermediate level between the exceptional values of the 2016/17 campaign and the low records of the 2015/16 campaign.