Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Fresh Tomato Shipments and Prices

The implementation of stay-at-home orders in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the rapid, dramatic downscaling of foodservice operations across the country represents an unprecedented shock to U.S. food supply chains. Consumer spending on grocery retail saw a dramatic surge as households stocked up on supplies and demand for food retail has remained elevated since. Meanwhile, demand for food away from home collapsed as restaurants and bars were ordered to cease all dine-in service. While this market shock is interesting per se, it can also offer more detailed insight into the supply, demand, and market structure for individual commodities. This study examines the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. market for fresh tomatoes. Market data quantifying the volume, price, and origin of tomatoes sold via foodservice supply chains do not exist at the industry level, nor do data on the volume sold at retail. The COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to examine responses in volume and price by origin to the demand shocks caused by the pandemic, and information can be gleaned indirectly regarding the market for foodservice tomatoes and the role of tomatoes of different origins within the foodservice industry.

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Aradhyula, Satheesh; Chin, Elena; Duval, Dari; Scheitrum, Daniel; Thompson, Gary; Tronstad, Russell

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