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Aussie potato growers spitting chips over European fries dumping threat

Australian potato growers are digging in for an anti-dumping fight with Europe as it reportedly threatens to flood the local market with frozen French fries. Brad Thompson reports for The Australian Financial Review.

AUSVEG said potato growers faced big losses if large volumes of processed potatoes were imported from Europe as a consequence of a €650 million ($1.08 billion) COVID-19 assistance package.

It wants the Morrison government to take immediate action to protect local growers and is investigating options to stop imports through the Anti-Dumping Commission, but fears that will take too long to stop the French-fry flood.

The threat comes with Australian farmers still smarting from China’s decision to slap a 73.6 per cent anti-dumping tariff on barley imports.

AUSVEG chief executive James Whiteside said the European Commission’s decision to heavily subsidise potato growers for a drop in demand related to COVID-19 lockdowns had opened the door for stockpiled product to be dumped in the Australian market.

Australia’s two major potato processors, McCain Foods and Simplot, are aware of the threat and have been talking to growers about their potential impact on their supply contracts.

Growers have been told at least one European-based processor has moved to set up a distribution company in Australia.

It is estimated Europe has about 2.6 million tonnes of excess potatoes and processors there are eyeing Australia because of high consumption rates for French fries. It is understood the government has advised AUSVEG to gather more evidence and to pursue the issue with the Anti-Dumping Commission.

Read the full report in The Australian Financial Review here.
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