A surge in South African tomato prices, after output was hit by wet weather in the main growing areas, is expected to be short-lived, bringing comfort to cash-strapped consumers. Picture: Ian Landsberg, ANA.
A surge in South African tomato prices, after output was hit by wet weather in the main growing areas, is expected to be short-lived, bringing comfort to cash-strapped consumers. Picture: Ian Landsberg, ANA.

South Africa's surge in tomato prices expected to ease

By Reuters Time of article published Apr 21, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - A surge in South African tomato prices, after output was hit by wet weather in the main growing areas, is expected to be short-lived, bringing comfort to cash-strapped consumers.

Tomato prices rose almost 93% and volumes sold fell 33% in the second week of April compared to a year ago amid high demand and waterlogged farmlands in the north of the country, said Dr Marlene Louw, senior economist at Absa AgriBusiness.

"Consumer income is under pressure and the prevailing high prices could have a negative impact on demand over the coming months," said Louw.

South Africa, which relies on domestic supplies to meet demand, produces around 600,000 tonnes of tomatoes per year.

Philé van Zyl, Director of ZZ2, the country's largest producer of tomatoes, expects volumes and prices to return to normal in coming weeks as new tomatoes are harvested.

FNB senior agricultural economist Paul Makube said the supply of tomatoes during April has already improved compared to February and March.

"We expect prices to start moderating to normal levels in the medium term as the production volumes from the non-affected geographies improves," said Makube.

Red Baron Tomatoes, which grows its crop in greenhouses, said it was not affected by the weather and has benefited from the higher prices.

"It's great for us because no one else has got, so we are getting double for what we used to get for the tomatoes," said Red Baron's Managing Director Andrew Emslie.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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