heirloom tomatoes
  • South Africans have been struggling to find good-quality tomatoes for weeks.
  • And in a single week, the market price of the fruit rocketed by 21%.
  • Heavy rains in the northern parts of the country have ruined some tomato production.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Good-quality tomatoes have been tough to find in recent weeks, as heavy rains at the start of the year in the Limpopo valley wreaked havoc on harvests.

This has resulted in supply shock, pushing tomato prices to new highs. During the past week, prices of tomatoes rocketed 21% to R19.52 per kilogram.

Dr Johnny van Der Merwe, managing director of agricultural information group Agrimark Trends (AMT), said in his weekly YouTube video that tomato prices reached a record R19.52 per kilogram by the second week of April.

Van Der Merwe said that the price was 96% higher than the long-term average price.

“The price is expected to remain on these high levels at least until the middle of May, due to low volumes,” he said.

However, low demand as a result of the steep prices may result in slightly lower prices, he said.

In an earlier video featured on Landbou.com, Van Der Merwe had said that a record price of R16.82 per kilogram was reached by mid-March, while high-quality tomatoes prices breached R30/kg.

This was due to very scarce supplies given the “high and constant rainfall” in the northern parts of South Africa, which caused damage to harvests.

In an interview with 702,  Clive Garrett, marketing manager of the tomato producer ZZ2, said that the tomato farms in Polokwane and Mooketsi were worst affected. Some production areas received more rain in January and February this year than they usually would in a year.

Tropical storm Eloise caused flooding in Limpopo towards the end of January. Too much water can ruin tomato harvests, and make the fruit prone to infestations.

Last month, Van Der Merwe's projections were that tomato supplies would have normalised by the second week of April, and said that prices would remain strong despite some “consumer resistance” to forking out such high prices; but volumes are now 35% lower, he said in his latest update.

Many tomato lovers have already vented about the quality and shortage of tomatoes on social media:

Water damage also contributed to a short supply of carrots, with prices rocketing by more than 50% in a single week to R5.89 per kilogram by mid-March. Garrett says supplies of leafy vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower were also affected.

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