Why tomatoes are half the price they were compared to a year ago

Business Insider SA
One tomato with blight  and another healthy one. (Image: Getty)
One tomato with blight and another healthy one. (Image: Getty)
  • Tomato prices in South Africa have come down sharply and are now 48% cheaper than last year.
  • There are currently huge volumes of tomatoes that are also not of good quality.
  • This is helping push prices down, with a kilogram of the fruit costing R7.16 compared to R19.25 last year around the same time.
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Prices for tomatoes in South Africa have declined by half over the past year, with a kilogram now costing under R10 due to large volumes of the fruit being available.

Last week, tomato prices declined 17% week-on-week, with the market price dropping to R9.04 for a kilogram. Prices continued their decline, with the latest price for the fruit now sitting at R7.16 per kilogram.

The drastic price drop is being driven mainly by the market being saturated with lots of tomatoes, which are also not of good quality, Dr Johnny van de Merwe, managing director of agricultural information group Agrimark Trends (AMT), said in his weekly YouTube video that tracks market prices for fresh produce.

"We probably saw one of the worst April months in recent years with low quality and high volumes driving down the producer price for tomatoes," Van der Merwe said.   

He said the price of tomatoes is now 48% lower than it was last year at the same time.

"This season, in terms of volumes, can roughly be compared to two seasons ago when prices traded between R8 and R6" he said.

The tomato industry in South Africa had a rocky start in 2021 when heavy rains wreaked havoc on harvests, sending prices to multiple record highs.

The northern parts of the country, where a critical producing region, Limpopo, lies, received excessive rainfall, which resulted in the scant supply of tomatoes. At one point, prices for tomatoes reached a record high of R19.52 per kilogram, which at the time was 96% higher than the long-term average.

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