Oct 12 2020

October 2020 update


New Fresh Tomato Strategy

This year the TomatoesNZ board undertook a review of the industry strategy. The new vision, purpose and priorities are available in a one-page graphic you can download here.  A series of actions sits under each priority. A poster outlining those was sent to members last month along with the Annual Report. The priorities and actions will guide TomatoesNZ activities over the next 3-5 years with a view to “building a resilient, sustainable and profitable New Zealand Tomato industry."


High tomato prices in the news during September

In September, Statistics NZ reported that August tomato prices spiked to an historical high of $13.65/kg.  

We had the opportunity to explain to Statistics NZ before they issued a media release about the high prices, noting that this was partly due to the uncertainty over sales during Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4 in April-May.  With independent fruit and vegetables stores and restaurant and hospitality closed, many growers reduced or delayed planting. This came through in a TV3 news story reported on the 6pm News on 11th September.    The Statistics NZ media release was published by Stuff, who also commented on the impact of recent ETS price rises which hit at the same time as the commencement of winter heating, and as the country and growers were only just coming out of Level 3 lockdown.

During 2019 tomato retail prices, based on the consumer price index (CPI), peaked at $10.68/kg in August.  The year before (2018) prices peaked at $11.03/kg.  However if we go back a few years, 2016 prices peaked at $12.06/kg in late August.



In 2018, 524 tonnes of fresh tomatoes were imported into NZ during the winter, which was higher than usual, and across a longer period than usual (see the graph).  Last year imports were significantly lower at 175 tonnes in total. Up to August this year (the latest data we have) there has been 20,700kgs imported.  This reduction is likely due to the impact of reduced freight availability, and high prices in Australia too.

 tomato imports Aug 2020 snip

Data Source: Statistics New Zealand

TomatoesNZ keeps records of the weekly CPI prices by region for fresh tomatoes, along with import and export figures.  If you would like to receive this information, or have any specific queries, please contact us.


Energy articles for indoor growers

We have arranged for greenhouse specialist, Elly Nederhoff, to provide a series of articles on energy efficiency for greenhouse vegetable growers.   Elly originally wrote a set of articles on this topic for the NZ Grower from 2003 to 2007, alongside a three-year Sustainable Farming Fund project called ‘Improving Energy Efficiency in Greenhouse Vegetable Production’.

In the new series which will run over the next few months, Elly has updated the information taking into account new energy efficiency strategies and changes in the last 10-15 years.  The first article titled ‘Energy efficiency in greenhouses’ features on page 42 of the October 2020 magazine.   We hope these provide helpful information and look forward to your feedback.

Also in the energy space, we are progressing with an online survey which has gone out to all vegetable covered crop growers that we have email details for, so we can better understand growers current situation and to help look at what options may be best to consider for energy efficiency and lowering emissions in the future.  If you would like to receive the survey, or further information please contact us.


Tomato Red Spider Mite

During spring, a field survey of commercial growing sites across the greater Auckland region is being conducted by SPS Biosecurity.  This is to try and determine if Tomato Red Spider Mite has spread throughout Auckland following detections at three sites earlier this year.  

We are concerned that this new pest may cause future problems for tomato growers and have been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to arrange this survey which covers both tomato and other vegetable covered crop growers.  We would like to thank all growers that have agreed to participate in the survey. This activity comes onto

Tomato Red Spider Mite is very small – the size of a full stop, so accurate identification requires an expert.   The tomato red spider mite got its name because it eats tomato plants, is red, and makes silk webbing to protect itself and its eggs, like some spiders do.  The mite multiplies quickly and in large groups they can mummify plants, wrapping them up in silk webbing.

More information and pictures are available on the TomatoesNZ biosecurity webpage, and MPI’s website under Alerts.  If you see any signs or symptoms, please call the MPI exotic Pest and Disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66.


Primary Industries New Zealand Summit in November

The Primary Industries New Zealand Summit is being held at Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington on 23 & 24 November 2020.  It will bring together world class, global and local experts. Speakers will deliver powerful insights to support and enable the sector to plan and prepare for its transition and adaptation to a sustainable and profitable future.

Tomatoes NZ Members are entitled to an extra $100 discount* on the registration pricing to the Primary Industries Summit. To qualify, enter the promotionalcode MOK8KS when booking online at primaryindustries.co.nz

*Note: discount will work for (1) registration at a time.