Tomato production and processing represents a very important agri-food sector in Tunisia. In terms of production, Tunisia is ranked among the top 10 tomato processing countries in the world. The tomato sector employs around 10,000 farmers and covers an area of 20,000 hectares. The production of dried tomatoes is rapidly developing in Tunisia and shows a great dynamism. Industrial drying is a rather recent economic activity, but it has been expanding quickly and has seen its annual production rise to an average of 6,000 tonnes in recent years.
In Tunisia there are more than twenty structured enterprises and a large number of production facilities that belong to the informal sector.
Dried tomatoes rank 3rd among the most important products in the Tunisian canned food sector, after tomato concentrate and harissa. Today, processing of dried tomatoes is an export-oriented activity. This implies that the entire sector remains very dependent on international demand, the supply of competing countries and the prices set each year by importers. This dependence is accentuated by the fact that 80% of production is exported to one single country, namely Italy.
Moreover, dried tomatoes are mostly sold in bulk. After being packaged abroad, the value of the product can increase by up to 500%.
Therefore, the objective is to develop finished products and position Tunisia as a producer of high quality dried tomatoes. Indeed, Tunisia has a long tradition in this area. For a long time, sun-dried tomatoes were part of the local culinary habits. But over the decades the way of life has changed; and today sun-dried tomatoes are rarely used in the kitchen. However, recently with the increased demand for typical local products, sun-dried tomatoes are experiencing a certain revival. 20% of national production is now sold on the local market. Demand and opportunities exist, but they can only be seized if the sector focuses on quality, diversification, marketing and the search for new markets. The PAMPAT 2 project works closely with the Ministry of Industry and the Group of Canned Food Industries (GICA) to support the development of the dried tomatoes value chain in Tunisia.
Demand and opportunities exist, but they can only be seized if the sector focuses on quality, diversification, marketing and the search for new markets. PAMPAT 2 project works closely with the Ministry of Industry and the Group of Canned Food Industries (GICA) to support the development of the dried tomatoes value chain in Tunisia.