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Bernardi adjusts with industry events

By
Tad Thompson

When the Tomato Suspension Agreement was finalized in November 2019, the Mexican tomato industry commenced planning for the TSA to go into effect in April 2020. This brought reduced plantings for the summer and fall Mexican tomato deal.

Then, weeks before that transition hit the industry, the entire world was impacted by the coronavirus. It was late this spring that the Mexican tomato industry took yet another hard look at its planting strategy, according to Joe Bernardi. Bernardi is president of Bernardi & Associates, a long-established broker involved in the tomato deals of Mexico, California, and Florida.

joe bernardi
Joe Bernardi

In a Nov. 4 telephone interview with The Produce News, Bernardi said, “As we loop around again, we anticipate less planting for the fall and winter deal.”

Bernardi expected to see more foodservice shutdowns nationwide this coming winter.

“Retail may make up some of the lost business, but foodservice is 80 percent of our business, so it has been greatly impacted,” he said.

Although Bernardi isn’t a grower, his firm has longtime, close alliances with many good growers.

California growers were planting in March when the COVID-19 crisis hit the country in full strength. The California growers certainly cut back plans for planted acreage. The conservatism “will carryover to the west Mexico deal.”

The good news is that “because of less planting this summer, the California mature green deal had some of the highest prices I’ve seen in my 33 years in the business,” he added.

Bernardi noted that the number of mature green growers in California has dropped to six or seven, which is down from 15 a few years ago.

As in California, the 2020 Baja deal also started with high markets, which carried throughout that deal.

In planning for the fall and winter deal, “No one wants to dump or disk product. I think the west Mexico volume will be tempered by fears of COVID shutdowns.”

As to news with his company, Bernardi said, “We’re boring. We keep doing the same thing year-in and year-out, for decades. We have a very good group of partner-vendors and the same core group of quality receiver-customers across the country. These customers receive a quality product no matter what the market is,” he concluded.

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