Tomato Talk
July 12, 2017 

The summertime sun brings a wide spectrum of price and quality across the tomato category. While waiting for local programs to start up, the tomato world remains in a state of flux, though hopefully finding some relief in the coming two weeks.

All the best,
Paul Maglio
(414) 906-8800

While still awaiting local programs to start across America's heartland, the round tomato market remains in a state of flux as supply clings to the east and west coasts. In the east, the Virginia crop appears to be quite strong from a quality perspective, but the limited supply leaves the market tensely steady as we head into the third week of July. Out in California, though, the high heat beating upon the bush-grown crop is beginning to reveal itself after several weeks of minimal effects. Because of the extreme temperatures, the tomatoes are ripening quicker on the vine, which leaves the market with more "vine-ripes" and, subsequently, less fruit available to be gas greens. This dynamic then pushes the market on gas-green fruit up, as simply less tomatoes are eligible for the gas rooms given many of them are already coloring up before picking. This leave market pricing higher than last week, and quality, as standard for California, remains sub par during this transitional period.

The roma market has slowly begun to calm itself down to more seasonal norms over the past week, though still providing buyers with a wide range of quality and pricing in the interim. In the east, much like rounds, there exist some romas in small pockets up the eastern seaboard, but not enough volume to make a major market impact. In the west, California product is available, and increasing on its supply of gassed and vine-ripened product, which helps alleviate some pricing from last week. Then in between these two regions, the Mexican groups out of San Diego and McAllen find themselves able to price according to daily projections and supply circumstances of their American counterparts. This leaves the entire market down slightly, but with much room to wiggle on a few key components such as price and quality.  
Cherries and grapes 
On the cherry and grape front, the sporadic nature of the summer-time supply leaves more variance in price in the tomato category this week. While only a handful of growers in the east are harvesting product, regional buyers are snatching up this fruit to eliminate cross-county freight, and creating a stronger market as a result. This then puts the pressure on the Mexican supply to fulfill the rest of the domestic pipeline, which is not a problem from a supply perspective currently, but allows the shippers out of McAllen and San Diego to raise their prices accordingly. Without any new regions starting in the near future, expect these markets to continue to creep up until the August garden season puts a damper on this bite-sized market as a whole.