Broken down by value, TOV led with 23%; grape, 22%; roma, 16%; vine-ripe, 11%; minis excluding grape, 10%; and greenhouse-grown, 9%.
Martin Ley, president of Fresh Evolution, Nogales, said the migration toward protected culture — a term that includes greenhouses and shade houses — and specialty tomatoes has been market driven. Expansion into regions that were not traditional tomato production areas also is being driven by the market and its desire for year-round supplies.
“If you go into specialties, it’s very hard for a restaurant chain to have a very good tomato that’s going to drive sales, drive loyalty from the consumer, if you don’t operate year-round,” Ley said.
Canadian producer JemD Farms, which struggles to put out a quality greenhouse product in the winter, has started operations in Mexico to provide year-round supplies, said Jim DiMenna, president and chief executive officer.
Mexico’s domestic market also has changed. Tomatoes that couldn’t meet U.S. standards used to go to the domestic market, Ley said.
But Mexican consumers are becoming more discerning and demand a quality product. Those changes also provide opportunities to progressive Mexican grower-shippers, he said.
“If you can’t export to the U.S. profitably or above the suspension price, you need to move the product domestically,” Ley said. “Some of the Sinaloa exporters who have already developed that infrastructure have a better opportunity to move product into the market when they can’t meet the suspension price rather than importers who are entirely U.S. dependent.”