All Italian tomato exporters to Australia slapped with anti-dumping measures

13/09/2017 12:00 - 114 total view

The days of cheap tinned tomatoes are over, with the federal government backing a decision to slap anti-dumping measures on two Italian giants that account for half of imported tinned tomatoes in Australia.

The Anti-Dumping Commission found exporters La Doria and Feger di Gerardo Ferraioli guilty of dumping - selling product for less than they sell for in their own country - and causing "material damage" to the local industry.

Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the government would impose dumping duties on the two players: 8.4 per cent to Feger tomato products and 4.5 per cent to La Doria imports.

"This ruling will ensure that Australia's only canned tomato producer, SPC Ardmona, can now compete equally in Australian stores and supermarkets," he said.

The decision means all 105 canned tomato exporters from Italy will now be affected by dumping duties. An earlier ruling saw Feger and La Doria escape penalty for dumping.

With the price of a 400 gram tin of Italian tomatoes as low as 60 cents on shelves, consumers should expect overall prices to rise. A similar SPC tin is $1.40.

But Coca-Cola Amatil-owned SPC, which has suffered a loss of 40 per cent of volume and reduced profitability during its fight, urged consumers to consider "the quality, value, ethics and food miles" of Australian-grown products.

"This is a win for SPC and our growers, and for Australian industry, which faces daily pressure to compete with cheap imports and those cutting corners and putting slavery in a can," said SPC's managing director Reg Weine.

"Recent reports of slave labour used to produce canned Italian tomatoes and mafia involvement are shocking. Australians need to know where their food is from and if it's been ethically produced."

Lily Lam, a market analyst at Euromonitor International, said the changes would see retail prices stabilise rather than skyrocket.

"Consumers will still have a selection of imported and domestic product across economy and premium private label products and brands," she said.

"Indeed, even private label tinned tomatoes have long come with the choice between Australian and Italian tomatoes, and the average unit price movement within the category reflects this as many shoppers opt for provenance instead of the lowest price when purchasing within the category."

Growers lobby AusVeg said the new dumping duties will allow Australian growers and processors to compete on a level playing field with international players.

"Once duties are imposed the price of Italian tomatoes will more accurately reflect the true market price for these products," said AusVeg chief executive Andrew White.

In the commission's final report, it acknowledged that European Union subsidies were being used by the Italian tomato processors to dump cheap products in Australia.

The Australian Made Campaign said canned tomato prices have long been imbalanced.

"Consumers in Australia prefer Australian Grown produce and this should not be distorted by ridiculously unfair pricing," said Ian Harrison, the campaign's chief executive.

"It makes no sense for the great produce grown in the Goulburn Valley and processed by companies such as SPC Ardmona to lose out in the marketplace against illegally dumped products."

Mr Pyne said the government was committed to a "strong and robust" anti-dumping system that would create a fairer economic environment for growers, who could then sell more product to processors.

SPC first made a complaint about dumping in 2013.

It is understood supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths both have supplier contracts with La Doria and Feger.

A Coles spokeswoman said it will continue to work on lowering prices for customers.

"We will continue to provide our customers with a choice of great quality tinned tomatoes and our prices will not change as a result of today's decision," she said.

Source: Eden Magnet