Greenhouse growers enter U.S.-Mexico tomato dispute - The Packer

Greenhouse growers enter U.S.-Mexico tomato dispute

10/10/2012 12:52:00 PM
Tom Karst

The newly proposed definition is embraced by U.S. and Canadian greenhouse interests and aims to be a harmonized U.S. definition for greenhouse grown tomatoes, Beckman said.

“The concern is, that unlike for certified organic, there really isn’t a definition in place,” Beckman said. He said Mexican field tomatoes have been sold into the market place as greenhouse grown.

“There is evidence of hundreds of thousands of pounds of tomatoes being mislabeled under the California code,” he said. “It is simply time to bring a definition to the marketplace so that a consumer who wants to buy a greenhouse tomato has some assurance that it is actually a greenhouse tomato that they are purchasing,’ Beckman said. USDA statistics on imports of greenhouse tomatoes are unreliable, since it seems some field grown tomatoes are being imported as greenhouse product.

Beckman said the effort to revise the greenhouse definition is separate from the dispute about the suspension agreement, but he said there are issues that tie into growers’ concern about Mexican tomatoes.

“There are issues related to how the suspension agreement currently impacts the greenhouse industry in the U.S., and yes, there have been reports that we have had product that has been crossed into the U.S. that has been crossed as greenhouse simply because the (suspension agreement) price matrix is based not upon the product value but the weight of the carton,” he said.

In addition, he said the Florida industry has a marketing order that has minimum quality standards for tomatoes that also apply to Mexican tomato imports during the Florida marketing window. However, that marketing order doesn’t apply to greenhouse tomatoes, so Beckman said Mexican field tomatoes may also be mislabeled as greenhouse to circumvent the marketing order as well. The definition may assist in the development of tomato safety metrics, Beckman said.

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Nogales, Arizona  |  October, 10, 2012 at 06:03 PM

'Greenhouse' and 'protected agriculture' should be defined differently. There is no question that a shade-house is quite different than a greenhouse when it comes to growing environments and separation of climate. To incorporate hydroponics into the details of the definition of a greenhouse, however, is incorrect. Hydroponic-grown and greenhouse-grown are two different systems and should be recognized separately. Greenhouse-grown and hydroponic-grown should not be considered to be dependent on each other.

AZ  |  October, 11, 2012 at 08:56 AM

Let's look at this for what it really is. The group led by Mr. Beckman is promoting an anti- competitive measure because they are stuck with over-priced infrastructure. If they truly cared about greenhouse-grown meaning something they would be advocating for a voluntary quality standard that PROVES the term means something and DESERVES a premium in the marketplace. The consumer doesn't give a damn the medium in which the product was grown or if the structure has climate controls. The consumer votes with their wallet and wants a quality product. Mis-branding shouldn't even be a part of this discussion as the brand "greenhouse-grown" truly says nothing about the end product. Last I checked you can still grow complete crap in a greenhouse...

MX  |  October, 11, 2012 at 04:54 PM

We are going to confuse the costumer even more now. Hydroponics is only needed when your soil is lacking key nutritients, there is way too many scientific studies that prove that direct soil planting is better, BUT if your soil is poor or tired, you NEED to go hydroponic. How many SKU's do we want on the tomato category in the future ?? Like we don't have enough already ..... Carefull what you wish for ..

ohio  |  October, 12, 2012 at 08:30 AM

It's sad that people need the government to "fix" things. There should be some definition of what constitutes greenhouse grown; however, how the product tastes and costs is all that matters to the consumer. You can also grow crap outside, but you still shouldn't sell it as greenhouse grown. It's false representation to attempt to gain increased pricing without increased infrastructure costs. It's called fraud.

AZ  |  October, 12, 2012 at 09:10 AM

Frank, the tightening of these rules has nothing to do with crap grown outside being marketed as greenhouse-grown. This is a small group of California growers trying to make the definition of greenhouse even stricter than it already is within the state of California. While they have delusions of grandeur, this only applies to the state of California Ag Department's own definition. I would also like to add that Mr. Beckman jumped on the coattails of the Florida tomato group also trying to push anti-competitive measures because they simply don't know how to run their businesses efficiently... Rather than improve they'd rather make it someone else's problem

Dice or slice    
October, 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM

There is already much industry/consumer confusion regarding tomatoes from the protected Ag world of Mexico. Imports, most which are now grown under shade, plastic, or some form of protected ag format via Mexico, are marketed either as Greenhouse grown or vine ripe fruit based which sub commodity will bring a better return to the farm. Tomatoes picked from the same area may be marketed as two diffrent products, Case in point 15 lb beefsteak and 20 lb 2 layer vine ripes. Which is it, GH, protected, VR, or all of the above? Please don't get me wrong, there are plenty of good quality tomato growers/importers from Mexico, let's just clear up the confusion, and have a consistent message to the trade.

March, 09, 2013 at 04:19 PM

egg zack lee

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