Spanish tomato growers have stressed the importance of separate minimum entry prices for round and cherry tomatoes entering the EU market.
Fepex – the Spanish federation of associations of producers and exporters of fruit, vegetables, flowers and live plants – said having just one value for all types of tomatoes makes it difficult to rigorously monitor the market and implement safeguard clauses in trade agreements when necessary. Cherry tomato prices can be up to four times that of round tomatoes.
In a press release, Fepex said that entry prices for tomatoes from Morocco will be one of the main issues on the agenda at the next meeting of the European Commission’s tomato forecast working group, to be held Thursday June 4.
It said that at the meeting it will also propose that the Commission set a market withdrawal price for cherry tomatoes separate to and higher than the current one for tomatoes in general – €18.30/100kg – because this amount is “clearly insufficient to manage market crises in this segment, which endures strong competition from Moroccan imports.” Fepex said that last year farmgate prices for Spanish tomato growers were down 14.5% on the previous year.
Commission sees no signs of market disturbances
In February, the Commission said it closely monitors quota limits for preferential access conditions for tomato imports from Morocco under the bilateral agricultural trade agreement with that country.
“Based on surveillance data from the national customs authorities, imports in October 2014 were 23.4% higher than in October 2013; whilst in November 2014 imports exceeded by 13.5% those of November 2013. Volumes imported under preferential conditions are within the thresholds set by the agreement.
“Member States have reported a positive trend for the prices of tomatoes produced in the EU since August 2014. The EU average price currently remains above the average prices of the last three years. The Commission does not have any evidence of serious market disturbances which would justify applying the safeguard measure foreseen in the Agreement,“ said Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan in reply to a written question from Spanish MEP Gabriel Mato.
Mato had asked if the Commission was considering taking action to avoid upsets to the EU market that might be caused by the increase in Moroccan tomato imports.
“This increase in imports threatens the market access of tomatoes grown in Spain, France and Italy due to the fact that, in those countries, farming is subject to much stricter social and food safety conditions than are in place in Morocco, placing farmers in those countries at a clear disadvantage,” Mato had written.
Background: Commission statement on tomato import rules