Growth in volume and value of globally traded fresh and chilled tomatoes shows the appetite remains for the salad staple

Worldwide imports of fresh and chilled tomatoes grew in both value and volume terms in 2021, with the US and Germany leading the way.

According to the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Trade Map, global imports came to just over US$10.5bn in that year – the most recent year data had been collected – an increase of 6 per cent year-on-year and 3 per cent on the five-year average.

Imported tomato volumes for the year came in at more than 8m tonnes, 2 per cent higher than the five-year average.

The US remained by some distance the largest importer in 2021, bringing in 1.94m tonnes (up 2 per cent year-on-year) at a value of US$2.9bn (up 7 per cent on the five-year average). The country’s share in world imports stood at 27.7 per cent, according to ITC.

Kaufland tomato display Germany Adobe

Germany was the second-largest importer in value terms, spending US$1.7bn on fresh or chilled tomatoes, 11 per cent more than in 2020.

France’s value spend climbed even higher in percentage terms, up 14 per cent on the previous year to US$820m.

The UK (US$622m) and Russia (US$482m) rounded out the top five in import value, although they both saw year-on-year decreases of 2 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

Looking at import volume, Germany (756,000 tonnes), France (516,000 tonnes) and Russia (427,000 tonnes) sat behind the US.

They were followed by Pakistan, which imported 404,000 tonnes in 2021, a leap of 59 per cent on the five-year average, and Iraq with 350,000 tonnes.

 Mexico’s export excellence

When it came to fresh or chilled tomato exports in 2021, the ITC Trade Map showed a clear leader in value and volume.

Mexico sent some US$2.54bn of tomatoes to export markets that year, down 2 per cent on 2020 but 7 per cent higher than the five-year average.

The country’s export volume stood at a fairly stable 1.9m tonnes, and it was responsible for nearly a quarter of the world’s tomato exports with a 23.1 per cent share.

With a 19.1 per cent share of exports the Netherlands came in second behind Mexico with volumes of 949,000 tonnes, down 3 per cent on the five-year-average, at a value of US$1.7bn, yearly growth of 10 per cent.

Other top exporters included Spain (US$1.15bn), Morocco (US$855m), France (US$511m), Canada (US$473m) and China (US$436m), all of whom saw export value climb between 2020 and 2021. Indeed, China’s value jumped 59 per cent year-on-year and 18 per cent on its five-year average

This article was taken from Fruitnet’s Fresh Focus Tomato special, which is out now in print and on the app