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South African tomatoes cheaper, potatoes to follow

Warmer weather conditions, coupled with the lack of frost this winter, led to an over-supply of tomatoes. If the warm weather persists, potatoes will also become even more cheaper.

Lower prices coupled with an oversupply of tomatoes at South Africa’s national fresh product markets will likely affect tomato farmers until 2018.

According to Clive Garret, marketing manager at ZZ2, factors such as warmer conditions during winter, lack of frost, better productivity and genetic progress in the industry, and new entrants to the tomato industry contributed to the over-supply.

According to chief executive of RSA Market agents, Deon van Zyl, producers in regions like Brits and the Bushveld are in a bonus period.

“Normally, frost and cold have taken tomatoes out of the market by May or June, but farmers are still harvesting. Those who didn’t produce late summer and early winter and those coming on to market now will be affected the most due to the low prices.”

According to Garret, the price of good quality tomatoes  should currently be around  R11/kg to make a profit. However, the price fluctuates  between R4 and R7 per kilogram.

“For the rest of the year, tomato farming will be challenging. Economies of scale, good quality, continuation of supply, trade mark recognition and professional marketing will determine what the long-term effect will be on producers.

However, consumers can  look forward to good quality tomatoes at reasonable prices for the rest of the year.”

According to Van Zyl, if the winter does not bring cold conditions and the warmer weather persists, the potato industry, which has already been under pressure for months due to a decrease in demand, will be in the same boat as early as October.

“The harvest from the north will be exceptional if the favourable weather conditions continue, which will force the potato price – which is already under pressure – even further down.”

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