Tomatoes in demand
Italian export figures show UK volume imports of canned tomatoes grew by a third over the first six months of the year.
Promotional activity on four-packs of canned tomatoes seems to have accounted for a large part of the growth, but retailers also increased shelf profile by introducing more variants.
Better marketing and stable pricing by Italy helped importers, who say years of problems between UK buyers and Naples are a thing of the past. One buyer said: “Chopped continues to gain market share, in spite of a premium.”

More tuna available
After several months of poor catches, vessels in the Indian Ocean are reporting greater availability of skipjack tuna. Prices have eased as a result, but with the season likely to end at the beginning of January the late surge will not avert further price rises as packers attempt to recoup the increased cost of fuel and cans.
One importer said: “While most canned products reflect the increased costs, tuna was held back due to heavy promotional commitments in the summer period.” Meanwhile, European Union inspectors are in Ecuador to inspect factories exporting to the EU. They will then move on to the Philippines, where sources in Manila say they expect the inspections to be more rigorous than in previous years because of tuna’s increasingly high profile as a major commodity.
But press reports of major closures within the Philippine tuna industry have been discounted.

Water content concern
Adverse media coverage following a Which? report on the water content of hams has caused concern among UK importers of canned product. One said: “We work closely with European producers to make sure we give consumers value for money, while stating clearly on the label the product’s specification.
“However, trying to educate both the popular press and consumers will always be a problem for a product which requires water in its processing.”