Tomato prices rose sharply in March but are expected to plateau as production increases.
The jump in Mexican prices was drastic. On April 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $12.95-14.95 for two-layer flats of vine-ripes 4x4x-5x6s from Mexico, up from the March 4 price of $7.95-9.
The April 1 price also was higher than the price the year before, $6.64-9.
In Florida, the price of a 25-pound carton of loose mature-green 5x6s increased from $13.95 on March 4 to $17.95 on April 1. The price was also higher than last year’s price of $11.95.
But while prices on Mexican tomatoes were higher at the beginning of April than they’ve been in previous weeks, they won’t likely go higher, said Chris Ciruli, partner in Nogales-based Ciruli Bros. LLC.
“Prices have peaked,” Ciruli said April 1. “I think we’ll see more volume from other parts of the country.”
As April progresses, Ciruli expects to see more promotions on Mexican tomatoes and prices settling in the low double-digits.
Ciruli Bros. expects good quality and sizing on Mexican tomatoes through Easter, which falls on April 20, with rounds peaking on 5x5s and 5x6s and romas peaking on larges.
In Florida, Bob Spencer, vice president and sales manager of Palmetto-based West Coast Tomato Inc., expected weekly shipments to be close to seasonal norms sometime the week of April 7.
“Volumes in Immokalee have been a little lighter the past 21 days, but it appears to be picking up,” Spencer said April 1. “We’re getting back into normal production.”
Florida sizing also was returning to more seasonally normal levels in April, after a 2 1/2 week period of below-average sizes, Spencer said.
Spencer reported good quality on Immokalee tomatoes shipping in late March and early April.
In late April West Coast Tomato’s Florida production will transition from Immokalee to Palmetto, Spencer said.
After a slow start to the growing season in Palmetto, things were starting to turn as March yielded to April.
“It’s been a little cooler and rainy up to now, but going forward, it looks good,” he said.