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Argentine tomato production not enough to meet demand

This article was originally published in Foodnews

Argentina’s standard domestic production of 400,000 tonnes of industrial tomatoes is insufficient to meet the country’s annual demand for 540,000 tonnes of the product, according to a new report by the agri-food directorate of the country’s ministry of agriculture.

“The disparity [between consumption and production] is met through imports, mainly of double concentrated tomato paste,” explains the report, adding that one of the main constraints is the lack of sufficient industrial processing capacity.

RPB-Baggio, one of the three tomato processing majors in Argentina, could commission a new tomato pulp processing plant worth an estimated ARS48 million (USD5.95 mln) in San Martín, Mendoza, thus boosting domestic processing capacity. The company plans to source most of its raw material from processing tomato growers in San Juan, who could see their total planted area increase by up to 50% in a couple of seasons.

Industrial tomato production in 2013/14 dropped to 330,000 tonnes, 20% less than in the previous season of 2012/13. Unfavourable climatic conditions had a severe effect on Argentina’s tomato crop. Frosts in San Juan had a negative impact on early transplants, although the effect of the frost was smaller in Mendoza provinces, according to the report authored by ministry of agriculture official Daniel Franco.

Argentina’s imports of processed tomato products amounted to USD31.39 mln in 2013, up from USD28.19 mln in the preceding year. As usual, double concentrated tomato paste (28-36 brix) accounted for more than half of imports, or USD20.76 mln in 2013 and most of it arrived from Chile (USD19.96 mln). Imports of triple concentrated tomato paste (36+ brix) were worth USD3.11 mln, while ketchup imports amounted to USD1.84 mln.

In terms of volume, Argentina imported just 29,380 tonnes of industrial tomato products in 2013, or less than the 29,559 tonnes that entered the country in 2012. Double concentrated paste imports totalled 18,290 tonnes in 2013, up from 15,495 tonnes in 2012.

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