Australian potato farmers are outraged to discover a $1billion COVID-19 assistance package given to European growers could result in a flood of French fries into the market from overseas.
An industry representative body for vegetable and potato growers, AUSVEG, said an influx of about 2.6million tonnes of excess potatoes into Australia would lock farmers out of the fast-food industry.
The two biggest potato processors, McCain Food and Simplot, have been working with AUSVEG alongside other companies to address the issue and urge the government to step in and protect Australian farmers.
Growers claim one European potato processor has already set up a distribution operation in preparation for a wave of french fries hitting the market.
AUSVEG chief executive, James Whiteside, said a flood of overseas products would severely impact the domestic market at a time when it is already struggling with a drop in demand due to the coronavirus.
‘On top of the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian potato growers already face significant challenges to their businesses due to issues such as the recent drought, water access and ironically the wettest harvest in Tasmania in recent history,’ Mr Whiteside said
‘This pandemic has highlighted the importance to Australia of having secure and local food supply chains.
‘Industries such as the Australian processing potato industry, which are vibrant and profitable in normal times, must be protected from dumped European product if the government is serious about food security.’
It is understood the government advised AUSVEG to gather further evidence and pursue the issue through the Anti-Dumping Commission.