The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) is disappointed the Department of Commerce has terminated the Tomato Suspension Agreement. The agreement has been an important tool in protecting over 33,000 American jobs and creating stability in the marketplace.
Many entities appealed for the signature of a new or revised Tomato Suspension Agreement. To that end, FPAA would like to acknowledge the efforts of our members, their growers, the Congressional Delegation, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and many others.
It is our understanding that the Mexican growers put several proposals on the table to improve an already-effective agreement. Despite the fact that the agreement has been terminated, our hope is that Commerce continues to work in good faith with the growers in Mexico to negotiate a new agreement that balances concerns of growers in Florida with the need to protect our robust trading relationship.
As the U.S. importers and distributors of tomatoes from Mexico, our members are proud of the work they do to bring consumers the fresh, flavorful varieties of tomatoes that they demand. Despite the decision from Commerce, our members continue to innovate and uphold their commitment to continuous improvement. As an industry, we look forward to continuing to supply retail and foodservice customers with the high quality, vine-ripened tomato varieties that drive sales in their stores and restaurants.
The tomato industry is healthy today because of the pioneering U.S. companies that import produce from Mexico. In fact, a report by the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Commerce states that per capita consumption has risen from 12 pounds to over 20 pounds of tomatoes per year over the last 30 years, adding that growing imports and emerging production technology, such as greenhouses in Mexico, are some of the key factors driving these demand increases.
An analysis led by Dr. Timothy J. Richards, Morrison Chair of Agribusiness at Arizona State University, shows that consumer prices could rise between 40 percent and 85 percent throughout the year because of reduced volumes of tomatoes in the marketplace as a result of the duties being applied to Mexican tomatoes. This will especially target the consumer-preferred varieties, including tomatoes-on-the-vine (TOVs), vine ripe, roma, and the specialty tomatoes such as grape and cherry tomatoes.
The FPAA is working closely with our members, CBP, and Commerce to ensure that the termination of the agreement and imposition of duties is as seamless as possible. We again thank our members, our industry allies, and our Congressional Delegation for their tireless efforts in this process.