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The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its quarterly Vegetable and Melons Outlook issued Dec. 15 indicated the value and volume of U.S. processed tomato exports advanced during the first four months (July-October) of the 2011-12 marketing year. The value of U.S. processed tomato exports in the quarter aggregated $190.3 million, up 14% from first-quarter 2010-11 export sales of $166.9 million and compared with July-October export sales of $160.4 million in 2009-10. Meanwhile, the value of U.S. imports of processed tomato products were trending lower. Imports were valued at $60.3 million in the first quarter of 2011-12, down 11% from $68 million in July-October 2010-11 and compared with $76.4 million in the first quarter of 2009-10.

The U.S.D.A. commented about U.S. exports, “Canada remained the top foreign market with more than 40% of all tomato-product volume, followed by Mexico (20%), Italy (6%), Japan (4%), Turkey (3%) and South Korea (2%). Shipment volumes to Italy remain significantly lower than their pre-2010 levels while shipments to Mexico rose substantially and volumes to Turkey appear on track to reach the 2010-11 levels.”

The U.S.D.A. noted tomato paste remained the export value and volume leader among tomato products. Exports of tomato paste in the first four months of 2011-12 were valued at $76.6 million, up 31% from $58.4 million in the same span of 2010-11 and compared with $67.9 million in the first quarter of 2009-10. Tomato paste export volume in the first quarter was pegged at 205.4 million lbs, up 41% from 146.1 million lbs a year earlier and compared with 168.9 million lbs in 2009-10. Tomato sauces were the second-most-important processed tomato export. Tomato sauce exports in July-October of the current year were valued at $65.7 million, down 13% from $75.3 million in the first quarter of 2010-11 and compared with $63.8 million in the same span in 2009-10. Tomato sauce export volume in the first quarter was pegged at 135 million lbs, down 14% from 157 million lbs in 2010-11 and compared with 128.6 million lbs in July-October 2009-10.