Gruppo La Doria has dismissed as “groundless” fresh claims from SPC Ardmona the Italian company is dumping canned tomato products in Australia.
Australia’s Anti-Dumping Commission has launched another investigation into La Doria and fellow Italian exporter Feger di Gerardo Ferraioli following a complaint from local food group SPC.
The Australian canned products group, part of Coke bottler Coca-Cola Amatil, has alleged the two companies have caused “material injury” to local manufacturers.
The claims are the latest set of allegations from SPC. Last year, in an investigation looking at shipments from July 2012 to June 2013, the Anti-Dumping Commission found 103 Italian companies were illegally dumping products in the country. The exporters are now paying dumping duties. Some 105 firms from Italy ship canned tomatoes to Australia. SPC this week claimed La Doria and Feger had “escaped duties during the first investigation”.
SPC has convinced the Anti-Dumping Commission to assess the impact EU subsidies could have on the price of products from La Doria and Feger. The Commission will look at shipments made in 2014.
However, La Doria is standing firm. It pointed to a report from the Anti-Dumping Commission published last year that said La Doria had not been dumping products in Australia.
“Therefore, we did not escape: simply, the authority verified that SPC Ardmona requests were groundless,” a La Doria spokesperson told just-food. “Due to the fact that – since that – nothing changed, we re-assert that our sales are absolutely not dumped and we are confident that no duties could be applied to our company.”
SPC said Italy’s processed tomato industry had received over EUR900m (US$1.04bn) in subsidies under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which had not been considered in the previous investigation.
It said the fresh probe would assess whether the subsidies had an impact on the prices Italian processors pay for raw tomatoes and if that affected the export price of canned tomatoes to Australia.
“We are very happy that the Commission is now fully investigating the impact of the subsidy payments on our international competitors. We’re confident that the outcome, when assessed against these enormous subsidies, will help level the playing field for the Australian tomato industry,” SPC managing director Peter Kelly said.
Sharman Stone, an Australian MP, said the 103 exporters that now pay duties were “the rats and mice”. The two largest shippers are La Doria and Feger, she said.
“The big fish, the big two, represent over 50% of the product coming in, they are the big suppliers to Coles and Woolworths, I understand. The dumping action did not deliver a competitive and fair market at all in Australia,” Stone told Australian broadcaster ABC.
The La Doria spokesperson insisted the assessment of the impact of subsidies was irrelevant to the company. “This aspect is also groundless: no legislative amendments have occurred since the previous investigation and, in any case, Italian manufacturers like La Doria do not benefit from EU subsidies,” she said.
Officials at Feger had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.