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FPAA: U.S. distributors push for tomato resolution to protect U.S. jobs and prevent shortages, higher prices for consumers

Banner for the Tomato Suspension Agreement with tomatoes and the US and Mexico flags.

PRESS RELEASE Nogales, AZ –The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas BB #:144354 is disappointed that Florida growers have rejected the most recent proposal from Mexican growers before the ink has dried on the document. The Mexican growers submitted a new proposal to Commerce on May 22, 2019 that builds on the strongest provisions of both the previous agreement and proposals from earlier negotiation rounds.

“The immediate refusal from Florida has the appearance that they have no intention of dealing in good faith. Our fear is that they are looking for total control of every aspect of the tomato supply chain and that there will be no appeasing them until they manipulate the U.S. government into getting a monopoly of the U.S. tomato market,” said Jungmeyer. “The Florida claims of unfair trading are unfounded, and the fact that they have lost market share is largely due to the Florida tomato growers lack of innovation compared to producers in the rest of the world. They continue to push their political agenda for maximum protectionist measures at the expense of other U.S. companies and consumers, including giving distinct advantage to their repacking business model, which is unnecessary for imported vine-ripe tomatoes because they are consumer ready.”

The costs of 17.56% duties are only one barrier, along with mandatory cash deposits, and the punitive nature of the Commerce requirements, that are harming multi-generational American importers whose livelihoods depend on this business. Since the duties have taken effect May 7, individual U.S. companies have racked up over $100,000 apiece in duties trying to service their customers, whose supply chain has been disrupted. Many U.S. food distribution companies have already lost numerous contracts with customers and suppliers.

A timely resolution to a new Tomato Suspension Agreement is in the best interests of American shoppers and the companies involved in selling tomatoes, and not just importers, but also retailers, wholesalers, transportation companies, foodservice suppliers, and every other industry that works with the tomato industry. In the meantime, duties pile up and some supermarkets have threadbare tomato displays because of supply chain uncertainty.

“Punitive duties are amassing that will amount to millions of dollars which will effectively be paid for by the American public, and supply chains are being disrupted because of the lack of a resolution, with consumers finding their favorite vine-ripened tomatoes gone from some supermarkets,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “It is time to end the tomato dispute and remove this tax on American consumers by reaching a sensible agreement.”

About the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas:

The FPAA is a nonprofit trade association headquartered in Nogales, Arizona, that represents over 120 U.S. member companies involved in importing, sales and transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Mexico. The FPAA leverages the efforts of private companies and partner-associations to increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetable from Mexico.