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North American Fresh-Tomato Market

See Background Statistics on Fresh-market Tomatoes

Grower prices for fresh tomatoes in the United States, Canada, and Mexico remained low throughout much of 2012 across most tomato categories. Tomato prices had approached these low levels in earlier years, but the duration of the downturn in 2012 is unusual.  Among the factors likely influencing the low prices of 2012 are good growing conditions throughout North America; a rising share of fresh tomato production coming from protected-culture technology (i.e., non-field production such as greenhouse, shadehouse); growing diversity of tomato types available (e.g. vine ripe, cherry, grape, heirloom, greenhouse beefsteak, and greenhouse tomatoes-on-the-vine); shifts in market preferences, and the economic downturn. Prices for fresh field-grown round and Roma tomatoes have shown some recovery in late 2012, moving into 2013.

Update Fresh Tomato Shipments 2012

Almost all fresh-market tomatoes consumed in the United States come from domestic production or imports from Mexico and Canada.  Both field and protected-culture technology producers in all three countries have evolved  to provide a seamless supply of tomatoes to the market. With multiple production regions in the market every month, there are likely to be fewer and fewer periods of short supply and peak prices.

For more information on North American fresh-tomato markets and a discussion of terminology see: Recent Trends in the Fresh Tomato Market (p.26).

   Update Tomato Shipping by Region

Field Production

Warm weather and good growing conditions across North American production regions produced large supplies of high-quality fresh tomatoes for U.S. markets during early 2012 even as longer-term production trends for field tomatoes are generally down or stagnant (with the exception of roma tomatoes in Mexico). Almost two-thirds of U.S. fresh-tomato commercial acreage is in two States: California and Florida. Florida round and roma field tomato production peaked in 1992 and declined 51 percent by 2011. USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) production data show very little movement in California round and roma field tomato production since 2000.

Field tomato imports from Mexico peak in the winter when southern Florida is the predominant U.S. producer. The Florida tomato season runs from October through June. Florida tomatoes dominate the field market during the spring as Mexican field production seasonally declines. California produces field-grown fresh tomatoes from May through November. Growers in the Baja California peninsula of Mexico also export field tomatoes to the United States during the summer and fall months. Across all seasons, U.S. imports of round field tomatoes from Mexico have declined 43 percent since 2003 while imports of field roma tomatoes from Mexico are still increasing (up 58 percent between 2003 and 2011).

Update California and Florida Field


 Update Imports from Mexico

Protected-Culture Technology

In 2005, U.S., Mexican, and Canadian protected-culture technology tomato shipments into the U.S. market were about equal. Since then, production has increased in all three countries. Shipments from Mexico have grown dramatically and now dominate supplies of protected culture fresh tomatoes in the U.S. market.

For more information on the growth of tomatoes produced using protected-culture tecnology in the North American market see:

Background Statistics: Fresh-market Tomatoes

Production and Use

• U.S. fresh-market tomato planted area: 1/
   2009: 113,200 acres (39,500 in California, 34,600 in Florida)
   2010: 107,700 acres (36,500 in California, 32,000 in Florida)
   2011: 100,400 acres (32,500 in California, 30,000 in Florida)
   2012:   98,400 acres (31,500 in California, 30,000 in Florida)

• U.S. farm value of fresh-market tomato production: 1/
   2009: $1.34 billion ($394 million in California, $520 million in Florida)
   2010: $1.35 billion ($368 million in California, $620 million in Florida)
   2011: $1.04 billion ($259 million in California, $435 million in Florida)
   2012: $0.86 billion ($222 million in California, $268 million in Florida)

• U.S. fresh-market tomato production 1/
   2009: 3.32 billion pounds (1.13 billion in California, 1.23 billion in Florida)
   2010: 2.80 billion pounds (1.12 billion in California, 0.86 billion in Florida)
   2011: 2.82 billion pounds (1.14 billion in California, 0.91 billion in Florida)
   2012: 2.76 billion pounds (0.98 billion in California, 0.96 billion in Florida)

• U.S. fresh-market tomato production, top six states, 2012: 1/
   California: 976.5 million pounds
   Florida: 957.0 million pounds
   North Carolina: 107.3 million pounds
   Ohio: 69.7 million pounds
   South Carolina: 67.5 million pounds
   New Jersey: 56.7 million pounds

• U.S. fresh-market tomato yield per acre, top six states, 2012: 1/
   Virgina: 42,000 pounds
   Florida: 33,000 pounds
   North Carolina: 32,500 pounds
   Alabama: 32,000 pounds
   California: 31,500 pounds
   Arkansas: 28,500 pounds

• Share of States' total field tomato area harvested for the fresh market, top six states, 2007: 2/ 3/
   Florida: 99 percent
   California: 11 percent
   Georgia: 100 percent
   Virginia: 99 percent
   Tennessee: 100 percent
   North Carolina: 99 percent

• U.S. per capita use of fresh-market tomatoes: 4/
   2009: 19.59 pounds
   2010: 20.55 pounds
   2011: 20.37 pounds
   2012: 20.55 pounds (forecast)


• U.S. farm price for fresh-market tomatoes: 1/
   2009 average: 40.4 cents per pound
   2010 average: 48.4 cents per pound
   2011 average: 37.0 cents per pound
   2012 average: 31.3 cents per pound

• U.S. wholesale price for tomatoes, week of December 15, 2012 average: 5/ 7/
   Vine ripe: $18.93/ 25 lb carton loose/ extra large (43% higher than 2011)
   Greenhouse (on the vine): $16.03/ 5kg/11 lb flat/ medium-large (20% higher than 2011)
   Mature greens: $18.24/ 25 lb carton loose/ 5x6 (36% lower than 2011)
   Cherry: $14.41/ flats 12 1-pt baskets/ various sizes (22% higher than 2011)
   Roma: $17.90/ 25 lb carton loose/ extra large (19% higher than 2011)
   Grape: $12.73/ flats 12 1-pt containers with lids/ various sizes (6% lower than 2011)

• U.S. average monthly advertised retail price for fresh-market tomatoes, 2012: 6/ 7/

   Update Recent Tomato Prices

1/ USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Vegetables.  2/ USDA, NASS, 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture.  3/ The U.S. fresh- and processing-tomato industries target different markets and tomato varieties are bred specifically to serve the requirements of either the fresh or the processing markets. Most tomatoes grown for processing are grown under contract between growers and processing firms. Fresh tomatoes are produced and sold largely on the open market.  4/ Computed by USDA, Economic Research Service.  5/ Simple average of all quoted markets (excluding organic) for the listed type and container. Includes all grades. Comparison week is December 17, 2011.  6/ Monthly simple average of weekly weighted-average price for the listed type.  7/  USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service, Fruit and Vegetable Market News.

Last updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013

For more information contact: Suzanne Thornsbury

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