This year's Italian tomato pack is thought to be up to 30% short on certain lines. "The first five to six weeks were held back by slow deliveries," said one trader. "We didn't get back the production later on, either." Retail volumes were agreed ahead of the pack. Pricing negotiations are still in progress and at a sensitive stage. However, for some lines only small quantities will be put on the spot market. "It was a difficult season with high raw material costs," the trader commented. Any factories starting the pack with carryover stock are unlikely to have had any trouble selling them in what will be a tight spot trade. According to the Mediterranean tomato trade association Amitom, about 8.9 million tonnes of fresh tomatoes were processed in EU countries this year. The five million tonne Italian 1999 pack was the lion's share of a 12 million Amitom pack, of which nine million tonnes was packed in the EU. This year's Italian 4.5 million tonne July prepack forecast has yet to be set in stone, too, and may yet creep up. But the Amitom forecast of a 10.7 million tonne pack is likely to be reliable in the final analysis. Even if some countries are up on their forecast tonnages, others are expected to be down, levelling out the final figure. {{PROVISIONS }}