SA is a net exporter of tomatoes but fails to meet local demand for tomato-based processed products, especially tomato paste — a gap that points to a lack of industrial capacity in the agro-processing sector. Statistics by the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry show that 441,238 tonnes of tomatoes were produced in 2015, with 27,253 tonnes exported. Tomatoes can be canned or processed into tomato puree, tomato sauce, tomato paste and other by-products that need tomato base sauces. The increased demand for tomato paste makes SA a net importer of the product, although processors are making strides to address the shortage. The Agricultural Research Council -Institute for Agricultural Engineering reported that in SA, only 10% of the local tomato crop is processed. Of this amount, 85% is destined for the tomato sauce market and 10% for frozen tomato products. In contrast, the US processes 50% of its tomato crop while Europe processes 30% of its crop. Last year in May, Trade ...

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