UPDATED: Mexican tomatoes officially cost more - The Packer

UPDATED: Mexican tomatoes officially cost more

03/05/2013 09:24:00 AM
Tom Karst

(UPDATED COVERAGE, 11:02 a.m., March 5) A new tomato suspension agreement has been signed by Mexican growers and the U.S. Department of Commerce, making proposed price increases official.

The deal, announced in a news release March 4 from the Commerce Department, was signed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Import Administration Paul Piquado.

“This agreement meets the requirements of U.S. antidumping law and provides an effective remedy for the U.S. domestic industry that protects American jobs,” Piquado said in the release.

The Commerce Department proposed the plan Feb. 2, and the signing was preceeded by comment period. The agreement sets different floor prices for Mexican fresh tomatoes during the summer and winter and also specifies prices for open field/adapted-environment and controlled-environment production.

The proposal raises minimum prices substantially, in some cases more than double the current floor price for certain products.

The previous floor prices for all Mexican tomatoes — whether grown in fields, greenhouses or shadehouses — was 21.69 cents per pound in the winter and 17.2 cents per pound in the summer.

The agreement sets new prices:

  • Open-field and "adapted-environment" tomatoes are 31 cents per pound in the winter and 24.58 cents per pound in the summer.
  • Controlled-environment tomatoes are 41 cents per pound in the winter and 32.51 cents per pound in the summer.
  • Loose specialty tomatoes are 45 cents per pound in the winter and 35.68 cents per pound in the summer.
  • Packed specialty tomatoes have minimum prices of 59 cents per pound in the winter and 46.79 cents per pound in the summer.

In a news release, Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, called the finalized agreement a win for for U.S. jobs, companies and consumers.

“We stand fully behind the Mexican growers in implementing the new tomato suspension agreement,” said Lance Jungmeyer, President of FPAA. “Their tireless efforts to maintain market access for Mexican tomatoes mean that consumers will still be able to find the quality and diversity of tomatoes that they have grown to prefer at the supermarket and in restaurants.  The agreement will ensure continued stability in the tomato supply chain.”

A Commerce Department official said there were no significant changes made to the agreement proposed in February. The official said more than 600 Mexican growers and exporters signed the agreement, up from 450 growers/exporters who signed a 2008 agreement.

All fresh or chilled tomatoes from Mexico are covered by the new prices. Tomatoes imported for processing are not. The agreement accounts for changes that have occurred in the tomato industry since the signing of the original agreement in 1996, according to the release. Since then, Mexico has significantly increases greenhouse acreage.

“I’m pleased with the collaborative efforts that resulted in this agreement, which will help to maintain stability in tomato trade between the United States and Mexico,” Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez said in the release.

The original 1996 suspension agreement was updated in 2002 and 2008.



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Charlie    
Los Angeles  |  March, 05, 2013 at 01:00 PM

Awesome news !!!! We need to protect our growers !!!!!

Brian    
March, 05, 2013 at 06:13 PM

Higher floor prices protect growers here, not consumers. It's good for a select few, like most special interests, not the general good. Prices for fresh produce is expensive enough as it is, we shouldn't shift the inefficient Florida-grown slave labor tomatoes costs onto the public.

Eric    
U.S.  |  March, 05, 2013 at 03:41 PM

How about tomatos from say...South America...or Canada? Doesn't Canada export 90% of it's tomato production?

Johnny Produce    
Dallas, TX  |  March, 06, 2013 at 06:22 AM

Can we get a clear definition of "adapted environment" and their seasonal calendar. With these prices it would seem winter could last longer than usual.

Gary    
Detroit  |  March, 06, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Glad this is behind us for a few years. Now if we can keep the MX shippers from subsidizing freight and Florida growers from sending price after loads, maybe there can be a level playing field. NOT!!!

Todd    
Florida  |  March, 09, 2013 at 08:53 AM

Brian, Where do you get "Florida grown slave labor" from? Its been eradicated, It's all in the past however your allegations and comment indicates you may know of someone being enslaved. Please let us know where this may be in Florida unless you're talking about the drug cartel driven tomato industry in Mexico. I believe you'll find it there, please try to eradicate slavery in Mexican tomato fields.

    
AZ  |  March, 11, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Todd, your logic is flawed/lacking. First, how would/could Brian be referring to Florida grown slave labor in Mexico? Second, your allegations of a drug cartel driven tomato industry are just as baseless if not more so than the comments you are railing against. At least there was/is evidence of mistreatment in the ag industry in the south, well documented many times over. The CIW exists for the purpose of protecting the workers because the industry in Florida obviously is too crude and subversive to do it themselves.

    
AZ  |  March, 11, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Johnny, there is no definition of adapted environment. Adapted environment includes any tomato that is not grown in open field conditions but does not meet the definition set forth as controlled environment. This can include any number of growing technologies that are typically chosen to best suit the growing area/climate where the tomatoes are grown. These tomatoes, just like open field tomatoes, can be grown year-round as long as the climate is right.

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