Vine-ripened tomatoes finding favor due to Covid-19 pandemic

Pandemic boosting U.S. market preference for vine-ripened tomatoes

As we approach the one-year mark since the Covid-19 pandemic began, many in the industry question where produce stands and how it was impacted over the last year. One product that appears to have been favorably impacted is vine-ripened tomatoes.

The Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics at the University of Arizona has gathered data that shows how the pandemic affected the fresh tomato industry.

One of the primary findings shows that after the March 2020 lockdown, when purchasing patterns bounced back, there was a clear preference for vine-ripened tomatoes.

The research project provides insight into changes in the fresh tomato market including shipment volumes, shipping point prices, and retail prices.

Additionally, the project also includes how supply and demand trends were affected in 2020 during the peak of pandemic shutdowns when the foodservice industry was heavily affected.

The chart below, which shows a dramatic shift toward retail supermarket food purchases and away from restaurants, hints at the impact that occurred with tomatoes.

In support of the fresh tomato industry, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) is sharing the information gathered through the research project, which was commissioned by FPAA.

A story map reflecting all the collected data has been made public. A presentation will be available during the FPAA’s Tomato Week to review the collected information.

The story map includes a timeline of events and various graphs that reflect shipment volumes throughout the lockdowns that took place.

The full impact on tomatoes will be revealed during an upcoming public webinar, Tomato Week.

The effort will continue to collect data regarding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the fresh tomato industry. To access the story map, please visit: Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Fresh Tomato Markets (arcgis.com)