View Full Version : China’s tomato output surges on high prices

20-06-06, 11:30
20/06/2006 - China’s fresh tomato and processed tomato production is set to surge this year, driven by unusually high prices on the domestic and world markets that have boosted planted areas.

The country will produce 32.5 million tonnes of fresh tomatoes during 2006/07, an increase of 9 per cent on the previous season, according to a new report from the US agricultural attache.

Meanwhile volumes for processing are forecast to reach 3.9 million tonnes, up 15 per cent from the estimated 3.4 million of last year thanks to expanding acreage in Inner Mongolia.

In 2005, China's processed tomato harvest was knocked by poor weather, especially in Xinjiang, the central province that produces 80 per cent of all China's tomato paste.

However producers have found Inner Mongolia to offer transport advantages over Xinjiang and stepped up production in this neighbouring province, said the report.

There was also a fall in worldwide production of processed tomatoes, including in the US, last year, which has driven tomato paste prices on the international market up by 10 per cent in the first quarter of 2006.

As a result, China's farmers are hoping to produce 4.5 -4.8 million tonnes of tomato paste during 2006.
They are also looking for higher margins.

“China produces high dense tomato pastes, of which 75 per cent is exported in bulk packages (usually 220 L), 10 per cent is reprocessed into low dense, small packages for export, and 15 per cent is reprocessed for domestic consumption,” says FAS.

But it forecasts exports of paste with low dense, small package will increase in the coming years, as processors seek higher profits.

“Industry sources say that one MT high dense paste in bulk package produces 1.5 - 3 MT low dense paste in small packages.”

China's tomato paste capacity is now estimated at 1 million tonnes, having doubled within the last three years, although actual production is still between 500,000-750,000 tonnes per year.

While exports to Italy – the biggest market for Chinese tomato paste – have slowed considerably as a result of Italian moves to limit entry of the product, domestic demand for both fresh and processed tomatoes is growing, partly thanks to recognition of the fruit's health benefits.

At present, per capita is highest in Tianjin, Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai. The US report suggests that active marketing of the health benefits of tomatoes could help Chinese producers lift domestic consumption.

Tomato production could however be restricted by weather conditions in Xinjiang.

“This spring, Xinjiang's weather has not been good for tomato production, with a late spring snow, sand storms, and excessive temperature variability. The poor weather is expected to reduce tomato yields in 2006.”

Also, farmers may be unwilling to expand growing area with other crops like cotton proving in the last two to three years to offer better returns.