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Today's worldwide tomato production

  • Instituto Superior de Agronomia, University of Lisbon


International Suppliers Guide 2007 -, published as part of the Fruit&VegTech magazine
The tomato industry is one of the most advanced,
globalized and innovative horticultural industries.
Most of the world’s production is located in tem-
perate zones with long summers and winter precipita-
tion but cultivation practices and the overall organisa-
tion and focus of the industry (processing tomatoes or
fresh consumption) vary between countries. The global
annual production of tomatoes (fresh and processed)
increased by about 300% during the last four decades
and in 2005 it was estimated by FAO at about 123 mil-
lion tons with a total production area of about 4.5 mil-
lion ha. China, the European Union (EU-25), USA and
Turkey are the leading producers (See Tab. 1).
Future perspectives
Global production is expected to increase for both fresh
market and processing tomatoes. The expansion will
continue in low-cost production areas (e.g. China) and
together with increasing production costs in most
developed countries this is a concern to many growers,
especially within the processing sector. Competition
within the greenhouse fresh tomato will also increase.
Spain and The Netherlands are expected to continue as
leaders in supplying fresh tomatoes to the EU markets
but more competition will come from countries like
Turkey and Morocco. Spain will continue to improve its
greenhouse technology, quality control and marketing
but limitations may arise from the high biocide use and
water shortage or the high price of desalinized water.
The Netherlands will remain leading in greenhouse
technology, innovation and product quality aiming at a
more sustainable production regarding energy use.
Limitations can arise from the high labour and energy
costs and limits in CO2emission imposed by the gov-
ernment or EU. In the Americas, expansion of produc-
tion in Mexico to supply North American fresh markets
will continue although food safety concerns among
consumers may limit trade. Protectionism in the tomato
markets is also expected to continue.
Increasing sustainability by reducing inputs like fertilis-
ers, pesticides, energy and water, larger areas of organic
production, higher demand for safe production and
products and more efficient supply chains are some of
the most relevant items in the worldwide tomato pro-
duction at present and in the near future.
This article is based on the Chapter “The tomato crop and industry” by the same
authors, in the book “Tomatoes” edited by E. Heuvelink and published by CAB
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Today’s worldwide tomato p
By J. Miguel Costa 1and Ep Heuvelink2
1Dep. of Botany and Biological
Engineering, Instituto Superior de
Agronomia, Lisbon, Portugal,
2Horticultural Production Chains,
Wageningen University, The
Country Production % for Area harvested
(million tons) aprocessing b (ha) a
WORLD 122,7 - 4,161,295
China 31,6 10% 1,305,053
EU-25 16,9 - 288,916
USA 11.0 95%a166,670
Turkey 9.7 25% 260,000
India 7,6 7-10%b 540,000
Egypt 7,6 - 195,000
Italy 7,2 70%a138,556
Spain 4,5 40%a70,400
Iran 4,2 - 130,000
Brazil 3,3 30%c58,385
Mexico 2,15 67,084
Russian federation 2,1 - 148,000
Source: FAO (2006)
data for 2003 based on Costa and Heuvelink (2005)
A quarter of fresh tomatoes in the
world are processed into concen-
trates, pastes and juices as well as
being diced and peeled and used
as an ingredient in soups, sauces
and pizzas. (Rabobank)
In Europe there are two major production systems for tomato. The
Northern system is capital intensive and uses modern technology and
practices like hydroponics, computerised climate control and integrated
or biological crop protection. It is a highly intensive and productive
system focused on fresh tomato production. The Southern system is focu-
sed on field tomato production for processing and uses low cost green-
house technology for fresh tomato production.
Italy is the largest tomato producer within the EU-25 (about 7 million
tons, 70% for processing). Puglia and Campagnia (South) and Emilia
Romagna (North) are the main producing areas for processing tomato.
Sixty per cent of the total tomato production for fresh consumption is
produced in open field and the remaining 40% in greenhouses.
Spain is the second largest tomato
producer in the EU-25. Unlike Italy,
Spain is focused on production for
the fresh market. Almería and
Murcia (South-east) are the major
areas for production of fresh
tomatoes in greenhouses and
focused on export. Almería is cha-
racterised by small-scale, family
farms and the use of simple
plastic structures called “parral”.
The area of multi-tunnels has
increased but the area of glass-
greenhouses is small. Cultivation is
mostly in “enarenado”, a 30-cm
layer of soil placed on top of the
natural soil, then 2-3 cm organic
compost and a 10-cm top-layer of
sand. Cultivation in inert substra-
tes (perlite and stone wool) is
Greenhouse tomato production in a
modern parral in Almeria
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used in the recently built greenhouses. The production system in Murcia is cha-
racterised by large-scale companies with modern greenhouses (multi-tunnels).
Marketing is done via auctions and cooperatives. France, Germany, The
Netherlands and UK are the most important export-destinations for the Spanish
tomato. The Canary Islands (mostly Gran Canaria) also produce and export
fresh tomatoes.
The Netherlands leads the production of greenhouse
grown tomatoes (all glasshouses) in North Europe.
In 2004 about 735,000 tons were produced on
1350 ha. This makes the Dutch the world leaders in
production intensity. Average annual production is
about 55 kg per m2, but the best growers can reach
over 70 kg per m2without the use of supplementary
light. Long production periods (December planting
continues till November next year), modern glass-
houses, soilless culture, computerized climate con-
trol, CO2enrichment, integrated crop protection,
high quality starting material (hybrid cultivars and
the use of rootstocks) and the high level of know-
ledge, organisation and innovation of the growers all
contribute to this. Supplementary assimilation light
is used on 11% of the tomato greenhouse area to
make year round production possible. High energy prices and governmental
restrictions regarding CO2emission impose a serious problem for the Dutch
growers. The growers focus on high quality segments and marketing is
based on contracts instead of the traditional auction clock to meet the
requirements from supermarket chains.
Turkey is the third largest producer of tomato worldwide. About 9.0
million tons are produced for processing in the regions of Marmara,
Aegean and Central Anatolia. Tomato is the main greenhouse vege-
table with a production of about 1.2 million ton and 80% of
greenhouse producing area is located in the province of
Antalya close to the Mediterranean Sea.
Germany and the UK represent a large
market of about 140 million consu-
mers. Due to their small producti-
on of fresh tomato both countries
are top importers of Spanish
and Dutch tomatoes. The
German market is strongly
price-oriented whereas the
British market is quality-orien-
More and more tomato growers in the Netherlands use artificial lighting for
year-round production.
Egypt is the largest African producer of tomato
with a production of about 7.6 million tons ( see
Table 1 ). Morocco developed into a relevant produ-
cer of tomato for fresh consumption. Tomato is the
most important early season vegetable produced in
greenhouse, with a production area under plastic
of about 4,500 ha and yields up to 250 ton/ha.
Greenhouse production is mainly located along the
Atlantic coast which is a relaatively frost-free area,
and in the Souss-Massa Valley (South part of the
country, near Agadir). Preferential agreements with
the EU for tomato exports were revised several
times and culminated in the signing of the Euro-
Mediterranean Agreement which came into force in
2000. As a consequence, it is expected that by
2007 Morocco will be able to export close to
200,000 tons. This increase in competition with the
Spanish fresh tomato has already given rise to pro-
tests from Spanish growers.
Production in Morocco is rising, increasing the
competition for Spanish growers.
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China is the largest producer (and consumer) of tomatoes worldwide.
China’s fresh tomato production is expected to reach 32.5 million tons in
2006/2007 driven by unusually high domestic prices. Processing tomato
production is expected to reach 3.9 million metric tons, mostly resulting
from fast expansion in Inner Mongolia. The province of Xinjiang leads
with about 80-90% of China’s production of tomato paste. The calendar
of production in Xinjiang is very similar to California and the processing
technology was imported from USA and Italy. Low production costs,
especially labour costs, are a major competitive factor for China’s toma-
to industry and this is already affecting world prices. Exports to the EU
and the rest of the world are expected to increase. Fresh tomato produc-
tion is concentrated in the provinces of Shandong, Henan and Sichuan
as well as in the peri-urban areas of Shanghai and Beijing. Shandong
(North-east China) is the most important province for tomato production
in greenhouses. Production is based on small family farms (600-2,000
m2) and growers use mainly plastic tunnels or the typical “Chinese lean-
to solar greenhouse”. Fresh tomatoes are exported mainly to Russia and
Vietnam, but export is limited due to food safety reasons.
The Japanese tomato processing industry is small but fresh tomato pro-
duction is very important. In 2003, there were about 13,000 ha of green-
houses with an overall output of 780,000 ton. Japan imports tomato
paste mainly from China and fresh tomatoes mainly from South Korea.
In 2000, South-Korea had 4,700 ha of greenhouses for fresh tomato pro-
duction with a total production of about 270,000 ton. In 2004 the area
was estimated at about 5600ha. Both Japan and South Korea use in
general modern greenhouse technology but production levels are still
lower than the Netherlands.
Greenhouse tomato production in a solar greenhouse in the Shandong
The USA is the world’s second largest tomato producer and the world’s leader in producti-
on and export of processed tomato. Fresh tomato production in the field is als relevant with
about 1.6 million ton in 2003. Greenhouse production is of minor importance with 330 ha
and a production of 160,000 ton. About 95% of the processing tomatoes are produced in
California. California has a long, warm, and dry growing season. The use of productive hybrids,
transplants and modern technology such as laser levelling of fields, precision planting, advanced
irrigation, fertilisation, crop protection systems and modern fruit grading systems makes the sector highly
advanced. Greenhouse production of fresh tomatoes has increased since the 90´s and is mainly located in
California, Florida and Arizona.
In 2003 USA imports were mainly from Mexico during the winter and from Canada during the summer.
Mexico has become the major supplier of field-grown fresh tomatoes as well as of greenhouse tomatoes to
the USA and competes directly with the field-grown tomatoes from Florida and the greenhouse product.
European tomatoes from The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain are also available.
Canada is a relevant producer of tomatoes for processing (500,000 tons). And the greenhouse tomato
industry has boomed since the mid 90`s. About 70% of the greenhouse production area is located in
Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec due to favourable climatic conditions and the proximity of the US mar-
ket. In 2003 the greenhouse area was estimated at 450 ha with an output of 220,000 tons. In Ontario main-
ly plastic houses are used, whereas in British Columbia this is mainly Venlo-type glasshouses. The producti-
on system and yields are comparable to the North-European countries. Low market prices and the strong
trade disputes with the USA slowed down the expansion of the greenhouse sector.
Mexico is an important tomato producer in Central America with an area of 70,000 ha in 2003 and a total
production of 2.1 million tons. Production in greenhouses expanded fast in recent years for supplying the
North-American market. The greenhouse area is about 700 ha concentrated in Sinaloa ( Northwest coast)
and Baja California. Mexico’s major
advantages are its ability to produce
during the winter months (this
holds true for both greenhouse and
field grown tomatoes) and the low
labour costs and sufficient water
availability. A major constraint for
the development of the Mexican
greenhouse tomato industry is the
high cost of capital, the lack of
auxiliary industries and the lack of
professional management and
public research. Nevertheless,
import of greenhouse technology
and expertise from Spain (Almería)
is helping to overcome some of the
limitations and to improve yields.
Grafted tomatoes in Canada.
... The tomato production (fresh and processed) increased by about 300% during the last four decades and in 2005 it was estimated by FAO at about 123 million tons with a total production area of about 4.5 million ha. China, the European Union (EU-25), USA and Turkey are the leading producers (Costa and Heuvelink, 2007). Fresh vegetables and fruits such as tomato are in great demand as they form part of the diet of millions of people the world over. ...
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