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Bernardi says sky high tomato prices will persist

By
Tim Linden

In his 35 years as a tomato specialist, Joe Bernardi of Bernardi & Associates has never seen the price of red round tomatoes soar as high as they currently are.  “The prices are historically high,” he said on Nov. 28. “Today a 25 pound box of rounds was being quoted at $50.95. A typical market at this time of year would be $16 to $20.”

And Bernardi sees no major downward movement in the market until mid-January.  “Supplies are very short, and it looks like they are going to remain that way until Culiacan (in Sinaloa, Mexico) comes in with their volume in mid-January. It’s all weather-related. We had a hurricane in Baja and Hurricane Ian in Florida. Southern California had rains and mainland Mexico was hit with its own hurricane.”

Bernardi said the November/December time frame is when Florida producers typically have a great opportunity, but Ian wiped out a lot of plantings, greatly reducing supplies from that region.  In fact, he said there is some concern that the replanting growers did in Florida after Ian hit has the potential of coming online just as Culiacan’s volume starts to peak. That could send the high market down very quickly. 

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Joe Bernardi

He added that while red rounds are experiencing the highest market, romas, grape tomatoes and even cherry tomatoes also are seeing very high FOB pricing.  

The newest change at Bernardi & Associates’ headquarters in Nogales is that the company has consolidated its office and warehouse under one roof in the Rio Rico industrial park area of southern Arizona. “The main reason we did it was to put accounting and warehousing in the same space,” Bernardi said. “That makes us more efficient. And the facility is only three years old so it’s up to speed with regard to food safety regulations.”

He noted that the Nogales operation has set a standard of consistency for many years so this is a big and important move. That consistency includes the team that works out of the transplanted office. Manny Gerardo and Alex Leon, who handle sales, have each been with the company for more than 25 years. David Vindiola, who is moving into sales from the quality control team, has logged more than five years with the organization. Rounding out the team is David

Ulloa, who now handles quality control. “We have a seasoned team,” Bernardi said. “That adds a lot of value to the services we provide to our customers.”

Bernardi & Associates, which was founded in 1991 by Joe and his father, operates as a tomato broker sourcing tomatoes all over the United States and Mexico throughout the year.

Tim Linden

Tim Linden

About Tim Linden  |  email

Tim Linden grew up in a produce family as both his father and grandfather spent their business careers on the wholesale terminal markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Tim graduated from San Diego State University in 1974 with a degree in journalism. Shortly thereafter he began his career at The Packer where he stayed for eight years, leaving in 1983 to join Western Growers as editor of its monthly magazine. In 1986, Tim launched Champ Publishing as an agricultural publishing specialty company.

Today he is a contract publisher for several trade associations and writes extensively on all aspects of the produce business. He began writing for The Produce News in 1997, and currently wears the title of Editor at Large.

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