From Jay Martini, a guest post about the vexing  tomato market.

From Jay:


Enough of this foolishness. It was time to contact one of my "Deep Throat" sources on the ground in Florida.

"So...?", says I.

"So...what?"

"The freeze. The tomato market. It's supposed to be going up, not sideways or down. I feel like Randolph & Mortimer Duke in 'Trading Places' with the orange juice futures."

"Well," he said, choosing his words carefully. "You basically have 3 or maybe even 4 different tomato markets right now. You've got the contract deal, the institutional buying, where the Act of God clauses are about to kick in once the salvage operations are over. You've got the speculation by some shippers that picked in the cold dating back to New Year's. I don't think it got above 50 for ten days straight. They don't have names on all that stuff. You also have buyers & brokers that speculated in the days right before the killing freeze on the 10th, and they haven't found homes for some of that either. They aren't panicking yet but they're fixing to. And you have the Mexican deal, which you know more about than I do."

"Yeah, the door was opened wide for them. And they watch this whole thing from the interior like a hawk, and they control the volume until they can't anymore. The mature greens are demand exceeds right now, but the vine ripes are coming off on price and the market on those big romas that look like a 6x6 sometimes is weak at best. Where's the shortage, right?"

"Not now. Maybe not ever. But this is all about control. Nobody's the big dog right now. Both Florida & Mexico have supply. That'll change in a couple weeks, when the Nogales boys will be able to call the shots."

"Then we'll see what the demand is," I said.

"No, then we'll see where the price is."

"Both. If it stays at three bucks a pound retail, lotta people don't need 'em, or they'll buy cheap romas."

"One thing, though."

What's that, I ask in my Joe Friday voice.

"Anything that's been picked has to go somewhere eventually. There's no storage deal on tomatoes."

"Which is why what comes down can go right back up this time of year. Damn, my head hurts. I didn't know math was going to be on this test."

"Anything else, then?", he asks.

"Nope, thanks for confusing me."

"Anytime, seeya."