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Tomato market better than expected

With access and boots on the ground in many different districts, Bernardi & Associates focuses on purchasing the very best tomatoes every day for a wide variety of customers.

On this particular day in late July, salesman Wade Ellis was in California’s San Joaquin Valley inspecting the mature green tomato crop, which was still in the early part of that deal. He was working out of Bernardi’s Turlock, one of about half-dozen offices the firm mans either year-round or seasonally. California will have mature greens through October and into November.

Tomato-ClusterBernardi was inspecting and selling vineripe tomatoes from San Diego and Baja California in July.Ellis said the crop looked pretty good and the market was decent. “The market is actually doing really well for this time of year,” he said, correcting himself. “The high heat has impacted volume and taken its toll on some fields, but overall it’s a nice crop.”

On that day, Ellis was quoting about $9 for a carton of these local tomatoes. From mid-June to mid-July, the San Joaquin Valley experienced more than a handful of triple-digit temperature days. While that is fairly normal, it’s still a challenging situation for a tomato plant. “We had several days in a row with temperatures over 100 degrees. We’re feeling the effects of that.”

Bernardi was also inspecting and selling vineripe tomatoes from San Diego and Baja California in this timeframe. The market for vineripes was in the high teens while romas were topping $20 per carton. The Bernardi salesman said a very strong domestic market in Mexico was causing those tomato varieties to experience a bit of a demand exceeds supply situation.

Ellis, who calls Ohio home but travels to many different growing districts during the year, has his finger on the pulse of the tomato industry coast to coast. He said summer weather has impacted deals in Alabama, Virginia and Tennessee leading to the strong market that currently prevailed. After his San Joaquin tour of duty, he wasn’t sure which district he would visit next, but the Bernardi & Associates business model calls for the firm to be an extension of its customers inspecting tomatoes all over the country so it can tailor the buys to each customer’s specific needs and specifications.