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Frank van Straalen: EuroFresh Farms:
"US: "It's been a though year, but that's agriculture"
A rumor that the company had lost a major contract for its hydroponic tomatoes and cucumbers and was shutting down is false, van Straalen said Wednesday. "We still have the contract with Walmart, and we have expanded distribution centers recently, as well,” he said. “And we have no plans to lay off workers or close down any greenhouses.
“It’s not been our best year, however. It’s actually been one of our toughest. But that’s agriculture,” he said.
Van Straalen explained that a suspension agreement with Mexico has caused the whole tomato “industry to be in a downturn, but it is nothing for people to be concerned about – we are not closing our doors.”
“We’ve been living with that for many years, but imports of tomatoes from Mexico have tripled in the last three years,” van Straalen said, “so our prices have been at a low point since then” to try to compete with the saturated market of cheap and unregulated Mexican tomatoes.
Van Straalen said, “We are trying to get this reviewed by the Department of Commerce – we support Florida’s views. It’s a political hot potato right now, but if it is settled, it would help the industry – both greenhouse and field-grown.”
He added another point of contention: “A lot of Mexican tomatoes are labeled as hothouse – they put a tarp over the field and they call it a hothouse. They have no regulations and it’s misguiding for consumers. You think you are buying a safe tomato, but it’s not necessarily safe.
The same issue occurs with “organic tomatoes” from Mexico, he said.
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