Replacement costs of both whole and chopped have increased by 25% Shortfall could force up prices 30% year-on-year Tomato prices are set to rise again as the rumours of shortages become a reality. Replacement costs of both whole and chopped have increased by 25% against last year's opening levels. A source in Naples told The Grocer: "We have been warning UK buyers for a couple of months that when their pre-season contracts ran out, they would have to pay more." Equally serious is the outlook for this year's pack which is predicted to be down 10% on last year due to growers restricting planting to achieve a better return per hectare. Estimates vary according to region, but 10% seems the likely shortfall, which could force up new pack prices 30% year-on-year. Growers who no longer use a seeding method in favour of cutting have already made their commitment to tonnage. Huge losses were reported by the Italian industry last year which remain a matter of debate. They were caused by pre-season pricing when the industry was expecting a record crop, thus forcing canners to pre-sell to Italian banks. These banks support much of the industry and require such contracts to underwrite the loan. Replacement stocks of whole tomatoes are available at premiums, but chopped are scarce. {{CANNED GOODS }}