Belgian tomatoes found to be “less costly” than Spanish tomatoes. This is the finding of a master’s thesis carried out by Ellen Peeters, who looked into the social and economic costs of importing tomatoes. Social costs are borne by society (congestion, accidents, air pollution, noise and climate change), rather than by the consumer. Peeters said, “When growing tomatoes in Belgium, external costs mainly consist of CO2 emissions, but these represent only 2% of the total cost. The remaining part is the production costs, which mainly consist of energy (31%) and labour (20%). Because to grow tomatoes in greenhouses in the winter in Belgium requires a lot of lighting and warmth, and that quickly increases the price of Belgian tomatoes. When tomatoes are imported from Spain, production costs are generally lower, but external costs are much higher (around 15% of the total). These costs are mainly caused by transport between Spain and Belgium: 10 cents per kilo of tomatoes when transported by truck, 1 cent per kilo of tomatoes when transported by rail.”
Peeters conclusion is that if the latest cultivation techniques are used, producing tomatoes in Belgium is cheaper than importing tomatoes by road from Spain; conversely, Spanish production is cheaper if the tomatoes are transported by rail. This is a particularly relevant finding given that 89% of Spanish goods are currently transported by road.
The world’s production of lemons and limes in 2018/19 is projected to be up 5% to a new record of 8.2 million tons, according to USDA data. Increased volumes have been recorded in Mexico, Argentina, the EU and Turkey, which should more than offset the drop in production in the US. Consumption and exports are both expected to set new records.
The world’s largest producer, Mexico, expects its lemon and lime output to rise slightly, to a record 2.6 million tons, thanks to an expansion in production area. Similarly, Argentina’s production is projected to be up 7% to 1.6 million tons, due to favourable weather conditions. Production in the EU is up 10% to 1.6 million tons, due to both favourable weather and increased area. Meanwhile, Turkey’s output is set to rocket 15% to a record 948,000 tons thanks to favourable growing conditions. South African output is also forecast to climb, in this case by 4% to a record 480,000 tons, on the back of favourable weather and a larger production area. However, US production is expected to drop 4% to 777,000 tons due to the unfavourable weather in California.
The largest market for lemons and limes is the EU and accounts for over two-thirds of exports.
The world’s 2018/19 grapefruit crop is projected up 4% to a record 7 million tons, thanks to an improvement in the US crop and a bumper Chinese harvest benefitting from favourable weather and an expanded area. The world’s consumption is up 3% while exports are up 8%, thanks to the higher available supplies, according to USDA data.
Taking each country in turn, China’s grapefruit output is expected to be up 2% to a record 4.9 million tons, which will lead to record consumption and export volumes. After a disastrous weather-ravaged 2017/18 campaign, US production is projected to be 29% higher, reaching 606,000 tons. South African production is expected to increase 7% to a record 450,000 tons, while Mexican production is forecast unchanged at 445,000 tons. Turkey expects to record a record 270,000 tons of production. Although consumption is down due to weak consumer demand for the fruit, exports are expected to reach a record 200,000 tons.
Production in the EU is estimated up 4% to 112,000 tons due to a rise in area. Consumption and export volumes are flat, while imports are expected to drop slightly due to the increase in supply.
There are worries in Poland that the country is becoming too dependent on apple production. Poland ranks third in terms of production area in Europe (167,000 hectares), and is the fastest growing of the EU’s main producers, with an 11% in the past five years, compared with average growth for the EU of 0.4%. Besides apples, the Polish are not ranked highly in any other fruit statistics, while its EU neighbours have all diversified their production. Jakub Olipra, an economist at Credit Agricole, believes that this could lead to a significant oversupply of the fruit in Poland. Moreover, if the price of apples on the international markets falls, then the whole sector will suffer from such overdependency on just one product.
The world’s orange output for 2018/19 is expected to rise 9% to 51.8 million tons, thanks to favourable weather conditions in Brazil and the US. According to USDA data, fresh orange exports are predicted to be up 4% to 5.1 million tons. Brazil’s crop is projected up 13% to 17.8 million tons, of which 12.8 million tons is for processing (+22%). China’s output is expected to fall slightly to 7.2 million, due to unfavourable weather in Jiangxi province. South Africa and Egypt are the top two suppliers to China, accounting for 60% of the country’s imports. After a weather-struck 2017/18, US production is forecast to bounce back in 2018/19, with a 41% increase to 5.0 million tons. EU orange production is expected to be up 4% to 6.5 million tons due to favourable conditions in Spain and Portugal during flowering and fruit set. Imports are flat, while oranges for processing and fresh consumption are both up. Egypt should set a new record of 3.4 million tons, up 10%, thanks to a larger production area and extended season. Egypt’s exports will account for around 30% of total global trade, with shipments up 60,000 tons to a record 1.6 million. Top destinations are the EU, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine. South Africa’s production is expected to rise 5% to 1.6 million tons due to favourable weather and expanded area. South Africa’s exports account for around 25% of global orange trade and are projected to hit a record 1.3 million tons. The EU is the top export market, followed by China and Russia. Elsewhere, Mexico’s production is projected up 100,000 tons to 4.6 million, while Morocco’s crop is forecast to be up 18% to a record 1.2 million tons.
Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture has announced that greenhouse vegetable production is set to hit 1.3 million tons this year, vastly outstripping last year’s record crop (1.1 million tons). And this exponential growth is showing no sign of slowing down, with forecasts of reaching around 2 million tons within five years, thanks partly to sizeable government funding, which almost doubled last year to Rbs240 million. The country’s winter greenhouse production area climbed by over 10% to 2,500ha in 2018, with the strategic Stavropol Territory seeing a 5% increase in volumes to 290,500 tons. Average yields stood at 43kg/m2 in 2018, a rise of 26% cent over 2016. Meanwhile, in March, the first crop of cucumbers and tomatoes will be harvested at a new greenhouse in the Ryazan region just outside Moscow.
Mexico’s fresh tomato production for 2018/19 is expected to be 3.4 million metric tons, assuming favourable weather conditions. The production area has been declining in recent times, but yields have increased due to a shift from open-field planting to protected agriculture areas. Protected agriculture is thriving in Mexico as producers become aware of the benefits in production, quality, pest control, and reduced risk exposure to climate change. The tomato planted area for 2018/19 is forecast at 49,600 hectares, which is slightly lower than in 2017/18. The area planted is very much affected by the US market conditions, as, in addition to supplying the domestic Mexican market, growers try to plant only what the US market will absorb.
During the winter season, the state of Sinaloa is the main producer and exporter of fresh tomatoes, while during the summer season, Baja California, Michoacán, Jalisco, and San Luis Potosi are the main producers. Exports are expected to reach 1.7 million tons in 2018/19, with the US remaining Mexico’s largest export market. However, these figures are difficult to estimate since the Tomato Suspension Agreement between the two countries is currently undergoing revision. The agreement, signed in 2013, is renegotiated every five years and sets different floor prices for Mexican fresh tomatoes during the summer and winter as well as specifying prices for open field/adapted-environment and controlled-environment production.
Despite experiencing its worst ever drought, the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) has announced a good table grape crop of just over 62 million cartons (4.5kg/carton), with a drop in production of just 8% from the record 67.5 million cartons harvested in the previous season. The drought has been ongoing for three years in three out of the five production regions, especially in the west of the country.
The Orange River region recorded smaller berries and lower bunch weights, resulting in 7% less than last season. The Northern Provinces Region produced a record crop of 6 million cartons, an increase on last season. The Olifants River region recorded a fall of almost 30% in volumes due to a sustained heatwave. Producers in the Berg River region were also hard hit by the drought, with volumes around 16% lower. The Hex River region’s season was just under 8% lower than last season, which constituted a relatively normal season.
Europe’s peach and nectarine output is estimated at 3,670,000 tons for 2018, constituting a fall of 8% from the previous year. The only country with a positive trend was Greece, (+20%). Spanish production fell 11% to just over 1.5 million tons, with the most affected regions being the mid/late areas of Catalonia and Aragon. In these areas peach production is expected to be 15% lower and nectarine -18%. The earliest regions are also affected, but less so. In Murcia, Extremadura and Andalusia, the decline is 7% for peaches and 13% for nectarines.
Estimates published by CSO Italy show a drop of 16% compared to 2017 with the south of the country expecting a fall of over 20%, while output in the north is predicted to be 13% lower. French production is expected to be 10% lower than in 2017 at around 200,000 tons.
Preliminary data for estimations of Spanish fruit and vegetable production in the first five months of 2018 show extra-early potato volumes are up 4.3%, while tomato volumes are down 6.2% compared to 2017. As for other vegetables, increased volumes have been recorded of cucumber (+20.3%), leek (+17.5%) and broccoli (+10.8%). In contrast, lower output has been registered for green peas (-17.3%), green beans (-7.8%), artichoke (-2.8%) and celery (-1.8%). The first production estimates for fruit over the same period show increases in peach (+7.1%), cherry (+4.5%) and apricot (+3.8%), with a fall recorded in plum (-11.4%). Final estimates for avocado production in 2017 indicate a 10.2% rise compared to 2016.
Source: Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
As for citrus production, estimates for the 2017-18 campaign indicate a decline in all crops,
except in grapefruit, which increased by 8.2% The biggest drop was recorded in satsuma (-26.9%), followed by clementine (-17.6%), orange (-8.7%) and lemon (-6.1%). Production of the mandarins group as a whole fell 14.8%.