Technical Sheet

French tomatoes

10-07-2015 Tomate française, fruits et légumes françaises

General market overview

According to the FAO(1), 170 countries in the world grow tomatoes, with annual production of more than 152 million tonnes on average, making it the most popular fruit produced in the world. That represents a production area of more than 11 million acres.

China is by far the biggest producer and consumer of tomatoes in the world, with 47 million tonnes produced in 2010 and 25 million tonnes consumed. It is followed by the United States, Turkey and India. France comes far behind, with 800,000 tonnes produced each year.

Consumption

C’est le 1er légume acheté en France.
95,3 % des ménages achètent des tomates fraîches.
37 % des achats de tomates sont de variété « ronde petite », la plus consommée en France.
Les variétés « rondes » représentent 76 % des achats.
Les ménages français consomment environ 15 kg de tomates chaque année.

On trouve la tomate sur les étals de mai à octobre, le mois de consommation le plus fort étant le mois de juillet.

Exports

  • 1/4 of French tomato production is exported abroad.
  • That represents 215,000 tonnes, for sales of 265 million euros.
  • In terms of recipient countries, Germany accounts for 33% of French tomato exports, or more than 70,000 tonnes per year. In second place come Italy and the Netherlands (10% each) followed by Belgium (9%).
  • In Europe, France is the fifth largest producer of tomatoes. Italy is number one, with 6 million tonnes annually. Then come Spain (4 million tonnes), Greece (1.3 million tonnes), Portugal (1.2 million tonnes) and the Netherlands (770,000 tonnes).

Production

Between 600,000 and 800,000 tonnes of tomatoes are produced each year in France.
That represents a production area of 12,000 to 15,000 acres.
Greenhouses account for more than 80% of the surface area of crops grown to be sold fresh.
Tomatoes are mainly grown in five regions: Bretagne, Aquitaine, Pays-de-la-Loire, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon.
The Bouches-du-Rhône is the leading producer department with 152,000 tonnes produced in 2011, followed by Finistère (118,000 tonnes) and Lot-et-Garonne (74,000 tonnes).

Tomato varieties

Although the French often eat the same types of tomatoes, several thousand different varieties exist! There are almost 2600 types of tomatoes grown in Europe, including 430 in France.
Many are local varieties which are only found in the regions in which they are grown. Other more common ones – including round tomatoes, plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes – are produced and consumed everywhere.

Did you know ?

Tomato – fruit or vegetable?

They contain seeds and are mainly eaten with savoury dishes but have a slightly sweet taste… So are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? A bit of both! From a botanical point of view they are a fruit, since they are result from the transformation of a flower. But from a culinary perspective they are a vegetable, since tomatoes are generally served in salads or as a side dish and rarely as a dessert! They aren’t the only sources of controversy – courgettes and aubergines are also fruits, eaten as vegetables…

(1)    United Nations – Food and Agriculture Organization