A simple inquiry — what has happened to fresh tomato shipments during the last decade, especially relative to Florida and Mexico?

The answer to the question is easy enough to find with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual shipment reports, found at this link.

Going into this exercise, I expect to see that Florida shipments have declined over  2010 to 2018, while Mexican shipments have accelerated. So what does the data show?

2010 Florida tomato shipments were logged at 34.5 million 25-pound equivalent cartons. Cherry tomatoes logged 1.78 million cartons, with grape tomatoes at 5.66 million cartons, organic grape tomatoes at 196,000 cartons and plum tomatoes at 5.592 million cartons.

Fast forward to 2018, and the USDA reported Florida tomato shipments at 31.6 million cartons, a decline of 8%. Florida cherry tomato shipments in 2018 totaled 848,000 cartons, a decline of 53%.

Florida grape tomato shipments notched 3.66 million cartons, a decline of 36%. Florida organic grape tomato shipments were 284,000 cartons, an increase of 45%. Florida plum tomato shipments reached 8.1 million cartons, an increase of 45%.

The USDA reported Mexico shipped 27.3 million (25-pound) cartons of non-greenhouse round tomatoes in 2010 and 26.06 million cartons of greenhouse tomatoes. Mexican cherry tomato shipments in 2010 were pegged at 3.16 million cartons,with Mexican cherry greenhouse tomatoes at 60,000 cartons.

Mexican grape tomato shipments in 2010 totaled 3.78 million cartons, with grape type greenhouse tomatoes rated at 32,000 cartons. Finally, Mexican plum tomato shipments in 2010 totaled a whopping 38.1 million cartons, with plum type greenhouse tomatoes at 10.2 million cartons.

By 2018, the USDA created several new categories of classifying Mexican tomatoes, which makes it a little harder to make direct comparisons with 2010. The USDA rated Mexico’s open field tomato shipments to the U.S. at 9.45 million cartons. That seems to be off quite a bit from the 27.3 million cartons of non-greenhouse tomatoes shipped in 2010. Hold on, though.

The USDA said Mexico’s adapted environment tomato shipments to the U.S. totaled 47.5 million cartons, while Mexico’s controlled environment tomato shipments rated 2.9 million cartons. Mexican adapted environment organic tomato shipments totaled 308,000 cartons. Open field cherry tomato shipments from Mexico totaled 440,000 cartons, compared with 2.1 million cartons of adapted environment.

Mexican open field grape tomato shipments were 3 million cartons, compared with 2.77 million cartons of adapted environment grape tomatoes and 316,000 cartons of organic adapted environment grape tomatoes. Whew!

And lastly, Mexican “plum” tomato shipments in 2018 totaled:

  • Plum open field, 20.6 million cartons;
  • Plum adapted environment, 29.3 million cartons;
  • Plum controlled environment, 324,000 cartons;
  • Plum organic adapted environment, 148,000 cartons.

With so much uncertainty in the air, it is hard to say what the future holds for Mexico and Florida. For the last 10 years, however, Mexico showed signs of increase and Florida, signs of decline.

Submitted by QTomato on Tue, 06/04/2019 - 08:42

How about going back to 1990 or 1995 Florida tomatoes compared to now? Let's discuss the fictitious narrative about the "need" for Mexican produce because Florida farmers are unable to supply the demand. Go back to 1990, you will that chart above inverted.