The 2022 processing campaign for Italian tomatoes started a few days early and with a few more worries. The early ripening of the fruit, due to the high temperatures of the past weeks, is combined with many unknowns that characterize an economic context as uncertain as ever. Of particular concern is the drought, particularly in the North Basin, but also the difficulty in finding seasonal labor in both fields and industry, the exponential rise in the costs of raw materials, primary and secondary packaging, and energy resources, and the growing risk of speculation.
For the current processing year, 65,180 hectares have been put into cultivation in Italy – decreasing -8.5 percent compared to the record year 2021 – including 37,024 in the Northern Basin (-4.1 percent compared to 2021), and 28,156 in the Central-South Basin (-13.6 percent). Based on these figures, production can be expected to be between 5.2 and 5.4 million tons.
The actual volume of production will depend on both agricultural and industrial yields, also based on the level of the quality of the raw material. “Price increases, which have reached unprecedented levels, have greatly increased production costs,” says Marco Serafini, President of Anicav (the Italian association of vegetable food preserves industries). “The Italian tomatoes industry will be sorely tested, but we remain confident in the resilience of our entrepreneurs who will try, at least in part, to soften the consequences of these increases by reducing their profit margins.”
“The processing campaign,” says Giovanni De Angelis, Anicav, Director General, “starts among many unknowns. We are concerned, even more, by the speculative attitude of a part of the agricultural world, already evident at the start of the campaign, which seriously risks calling into question the survival of the supply chain, particularly in the Central-South basin. It must be emphasized that the industry, after months of negotiations, has recognized a reference price for tomatoes in the North and, even more so, in the Center-South, which is unprecedented in the history of Italian processing tomato bargaining, and to date the highest ever paid in the world.”
ITALIAN TOMATOES BY THE NUMBERS
The processing tomato chain is the most important processed fruit and vegetable chain in Italy. In 2021, total turnover reached 3.7 billion euros, of which about 2 billion came from exports. Italy specializes in the production of tomato derivatives for retail. It is the second largest processing country in the world after the United States and accounts for 15.6 percent of world production and 53 percent of the European total processed products.