Italian tomato dumping has little impact on NZ market

The dumping of Italian processed tomatoes on to the New Zealand market has been found to have little impact.

BUSINESSDESK: The dumping of Italian processed tomatoes on to the New Zealand market has been found to have little impact, a Ministry of Economic Development report says.

Heinz Watties, which sells canned tomatoes under the Watties and Oak brands, made a complaint about dumping of Italian tomatoes with the ministry in July 2011. The report, Dumping Investigation, Preserved Tomatoes Investigation, found that one, a producer called Conserve Italia Agricultural Co-operative Society, had dumped the products.

"There is evidence of an increase in the volume of dumped imports in absolute terms and in relation to production in New Zealand," the report said.

"There is evidence of only a slight increase in dumped import volumes relative to consumption in New Zealand."

It did find evidence of price undercutting and price suppression by Italian importers.

There was no evidence of price depression even with "dumped importers significantly undercutting the price of equivalent Heinz Watties products".

An economic impact was "a significant decline in profits, a small decline in market share, a small decline in capacity utilisation in relation to chopped tomatoes and a slight decline in capacity utilisation in relation to crushed tomatoes, a small increase in inventories and the deferment of investment in new plant," it said.

Despite price undercutting there was not "sufficient evidence of a threat" to Heinz Watties for officials to take action.

Only 36% of the top Italian tomato producers who exported 400g to 3kg cans were investigated by the ministry.

Italian imports make up 80% of the preserved tomato industry, excluding imports by Heinz Watties.

Australia and Turkey are the second-highest exporters of tomatoes to New Zealand, with imports from Australia increasing by 59% from 2009 to 2011.

Imports from Turkey rose 52% of the same period, the ministry says.

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