FPAA Testifies Before International Trade Commission
WASHINGTON, DC - There was more movement on the Mexican tomato front last week, as the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) went before the International Trade Commission (ITC) to testify. FPAA suggested that at the heart of lost market share is a lack of innovation amongst U.S. tomato producers. According to a press release, Lance Jungmeyer, President of FPAA, testified that Mexican growers who have added technology to meet market conditions should not be penalized or accused of injury in the face of the U.S. industry’s failure to adapt.
“The data shows that, since this saga began in 1996, the petitioners have done little to innovate or move their horticultural interests forward,” Jungmeyer said. “With the continued market share decline of their primarily field-grown gassed green tomato product, the FTE companies have largely hitched their wagons to their competitors in Mexico, investing in fields, packinghouses, and strategic partnerships there in order to remain relevant in the marketplace.”
FPAA was quick to defend the interests of U.S. importing companies after the Florida Tomato Exchange recently asked to have the investigation reopened. If no injury was found, the Tomato Suspension Agreement would be removed and there would be free trade without duties. A determination of injury would mean continuation of the Tomato Suspension Agreement. FPAA maintains that importers are working with Mexican growers to provide the product that the market wants and requires.
“Indeed, far from causing injury, the importation and distribution of Mexican tomatoes is one of the only things keeping FTE marketing companies in the game,” Jungmeyer added.
FPAA surveyed its members, who revealed that nearly 25 percent of the tomatoes they sell go toward FTE-affiliated companies. Over the last few years, FTE-affiliated firms have systematically bought up distribution operations all across the United States and transitioned from tomato farming to tomato marketing.
As the great tomato debate continues to develop, keep a tab open for AndNowUKnow.