Fears of embattled Victorian canner SPC Ardmona that Australia has been illegally flooded with low-priced goods have been backed by an Anti-Dumping Commission finding that more than half the Italian tinned tomatoes imported were illegally “dumped”.
As a result, the Anti-Dumping Commission is planning to recommend tariffs of up to 26.35% on nearly 100 brands of imported tomatoes.
Loss-making SPC Ardmona has been seeking government support to help consolidate its operations in Victoria. The federal government has rejected its application, saying corporate Australia needs to learn to live within its means and attacked the company over its pay and conditions for workers.
As part of the Commission’s “statement of facts”, two exporters, IMCA and Lodato Gennaro, will cop a 26.35% “dumping margin” tariff, alongside exporters labelled “uncooperative” to the Commission’s investigation.
Nine other “residual” exporters face tariffs of just over 5%.
Two companies, Italy’s largest producer, La Doria, and Feger di Gerardo Ferraioli, escaped penalty because during its investigation period, the Commission found the products were not dumped, or dumped but with a negligible margin and did not harm Australian industry.
The Commission’s report said Australian industry had been damaged by the Italian imports and it will continue unless the tariffs were imposed.
The Commission found the Australian market consumed around 54,000 tonnes of tinned tomatoes last financial year and that 82% were sold through the major supermarkets.
Tellingly, the report says:
In April 2011, Coles extended the ‘down down’ promotional strategy to its premium private label reducing a 400g (net) can from $1.19 to $0.80 (retail price). This dramatically changed the retail pricing of Italian prepared or preserved tomatoes. The relevance of the ‘down down’ program is that Coles indicated that price will remain low.
The Australian Made Campaign has welcomed the findings with chief executive Ian Harrison, saying imports were doing significant damage to companies such as SPC Ardmona.
“Illegal dumping is just another form of cheating,” he said.
“There are consequences if we all increasingly purchase imported products over great Australian produce – further job losses and problems for our farming communities are at the forefront of those consequences.”
BUsiness Insider contacted Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and his Department for comment on the interim report’s findings, but they declined.