Packaging costs for industrial tomatoes are driving up brand prices around the world, just as in Africa, Zimbabweans are being wooed to tap into the $25 billion Qatar import market.
Trade promotion agency, Zimtrade, is urging locals to take advantage of existing direct flights to Qatar and tap into the latter’s $25.8 billion import economy. In a latest update, Zimtrade established that Qatar is classified as a high-income country and has one of the world’s highest per capita income countries, indicating a high-spending power for the population.
According to Zimtrade, “the introduction of direct flights between Zimbabwe and Qatar celebrated through the inaugural flight by Qatar Airways into Harare recently, is expected to unlock export opportunities of local products into the Middle-Eastern country.
‘’As Zimbabwe seeks to diversify its export markets, envisioned in the National Export Strategy – launched by President Mnangagwa in 2019 – Qatar presents a promising market for locally produced products and services.”
The opportunity also comes at a time when the Southern Africa nation has spearheaded relatively successful economic reforms which have seen the emergence of a stable currency and guaranteed foreign currency supply through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe foreign currency auction platform.
All Africa reports how, through additional policy measures, companies are now allowed to sell their goods and services in foreign currency, a position that further strengthens the companies’ balance sheets. The trade agency tipped local manufacturers that Qatar imported products worth around $25,8 billion in 2020 alone from major supplying countries.
However, Managing Director of the Campania-based company Perano Enrico & Figli in Italy, Enzo Perano, says “the processing tomato campaign will continue beyond August, albeit with many difficulties. Volumes are high and, in contrast to previous years, the prices of processed products are also on the rise, driven by the unprecedented increase in raw material packaging, which is difficult to find.”
The steel and tinplate industries have been particularly affected by the recovery of intercontinental trade after the critical phase of the pandemic.
Specifically, the production of cans and capsules for food packaging has gone haywire, with prices soaring in the face of high demand and a shortage of warehouse stocks.
Perano Enrico & Figli has been processing and marketing a wide variety of tomatoes under the Galletto brand name since the 1960s, with a total volume of around 90,000 tons, using raw material from both round and long tomatoes.
The company – now in its third generation of entrepreneurs – is present in the Italian and foreign large-scale retail trade under both its own brand (Galletto) and private labels. There are about 15 references of processed tomatoes, including whole, peeled, puréed and chopped tomatoes, available in various formats, depending on the commercial channels.
“We are focusing on a meticulous selection of freshly harvested batches of tomatoes – which are in fact suffering greatly from the extreme heat and drought of the last three months. In absolute terms, this is a campaign characterized by a high quality of the fruit; however, in some areas of Capitanata (Puglia) the heat and water stress has led to a very rapid ripening of the tomatoes which, although aesthetically appealing, they are often not perfectly ripe on the inside, which is what the delicate processing of peeled tomatoes requires.’’
In the Gargano area of Apulia, in the province of Foggia, all the problems caused by the adverse weather conditions that have devastated the young plants transplanted, from the frost in April to the floods of 18 and 19 July, in addition to the drought of the last few months, are now emerging.
Perano Enrico & Figli has a large factory and state-of-the-art processing machines, as well as computerized sorters (supplied by Raytec Vision), in order to control the morphology of each tomato in detail, thus selecting the healthy product and discarding the imperfect or unripe one, in order to obtain a final product that meets expectations.
“We are at maximum production capacity, with plants that were opened last May, given the expectation of a surplus of tomatoes to be processed, which have matured simultaneously, as happened during the last campaign.
‘’In addition, we are also coping with the problems caused by the pandemic, such as the lack of raw materials for packaging and the difficulties in finding skilled and unskilled labor. Logistics are also affected, with an insufficient number of trucks to transport the tomatoes from the countryside to the industry and with carriers that are undersized compared to demand.’’