With long Christmas festivities, many Italian tomato packers are not planning to open again until January 17. The trade is understandably quiet and the only real shortage expected in coming months is in 3kg chopped. Price rises in this area have tended to push up the asking price across the board, but given the disparity in end uses, this is opportunism rather than a market trend. Provisional figures for last year's tomato pack show the Italian industry processed over 4.9 million tonnes, more than recovering the gap on 1998's heat-struck 4.3 million tonne pack, but replenishing an empty market. Even on a three year average, last year's Italian pack was 14% up, according to Tomato News. But the Italians will do well to watch the development of their Spanish counterparts, who packed over 1.5 million tonnes last year. {{PROVISIONS }}