Growers of greenhouse tomatoes are reporting strong production in the Mexican growing regions thanks to abundant sunshine and warm to hot weather. The hotter temperatures are finally settling into the regions, causing some transitions to take place between different sites, as explained by Jaime Garcia of Kingdom Fresh Farms.
“We have year-round production but our current focus is in the Torreon and Puebla districts,” he said. “We are seeing very good volume as the weather has been very favorable. Canada is having a few problems with rain which is affecting production there, but in Mexico there are no issues at all. As a result, we are seeing tomatoes coming on strongly especially with our new crop in Puebla. The yields have been amazing.”
Garcia added that production is strongest in Torreon currently. “The hotter the weather, the faster the tomatoes come on and we have certainly seen that in Torreon. In Puebla, we are seeing night and morning temperatures around 65, reaching up to 85 during the day, which is helping to maintain steady production.”
Out of the main varieties, suppliers are seeing the strongest market on Vine-ripened tomatoes. Problems in other regions has created a supply gap which has led to a tighter than average market. “The Vine-ripe market is good right now,” Garcia noted. “Weather issues in Florida has meant they have not been able to produce as much volume as they would have liked. We are about to see Tennessee and South Carolina starting up which should bring more volume into the market. We have had a good run of prices for several weeks now. The local deals are also about to start, but much of that is open field which is subject to weather, especially as the wet season approaches.”
He added that Romas, meanwhile, are experiencing the opposite, with production from Sonora running later than usual because of a cooler spring. “The Roma market is a little depressed with extra production out of Sonora. They are normally done by now, so Roma tomatoes remain on the cheaper side.”
“Grape tomatoes are steady between $10.95 and $11.95 with organic also steady at $15,” he continued. “Roma tomato prices are between $11 - $12.95 for an 8lb box.”
Kingdom Fresh Farms says its bio-degradable, compostable trays for grape tomatoes are receiving excellent feedback. The company has actually had them since 2006, but according to Garcia, it took a while to take off because at that time, consumers were less aware of the prevalence of plastic and its harm to the environment. But now the company is seeing demand for the trays increase.
“The bio-degradable and compostable trays now make up 30 to 35 percent of our grape tomato production,” Garcia shared. “We have received a tremendous amount of support from retailers. Over the years, it has taken some time to educate the end-consumer to be more conscious on the use of plastics. Now, however, we are seeing greater demand from both retailers and consumers alike as that awareness has grown.”
Tomatoes are not the only item that Kingdom Fresh Farms handles. Aside from the various types of tomatoes, including organic, the company also currently grows cucumbers in their greenhouses, and will be adding more items towards the end of summer. Their goal is to fill a window of demand that they have identified during that time frame.
“Kingdom Family Farms has over 500 acres of greenhouse production in Mexico,” Garcia said. “We are now adding zucchini, yellow and gray squash to our lineup from mid-August, with the aim of becoming a one-stop shop for our customers. We have identified a good window of demand for these items through the August and September period.”
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