Claims that tariffs are driving higher prices denied


13 December 2022
Hospitality sector using imports is only one struggling, says grower association.

POTATOES South Africa (Potatoes SA) has denied recent claims that the implementation of import tariffs on French fries was driving up food prices and threatening food security in South Africa.

General Manager of Merlog Foods, which supplies frozen French fries and value-added potato products amongst other things, has seen the price of frozen French fries almost double over the past year, from about R16/kg to R30/kg as a result of import tariffs, which the company's General ManagerGeorg Southey says has created a shortage of French fries on the market.

He said: “South Africa does not produce enough of the type of potato used for the production of French fries and there is not enough processing capacity to produce French fries in the country. Wholesalers, such as myself, therefore have to import frozen chips from other countries so that every small vendor, shisa nyama [outlet] and restaurant can keep French fries on their menus.”

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But CEO of Potatoes SA, Willie Jacobs, says the import tariffs, which amounted to 23% for Belgium, 104% for the Netherlands and 181% for German suppliers, were necessary to protect the local industry against “dumping”.

were producing varieties for processing purposes on contract, and these contracts were secured for at least two years in advance, which was the timeframe needed by seed potato producers to supply farmers with tubers of the required varieties.

“There is no shortage, as both our Mondial and Sifra varieties are suitable for processing, and account for 84% of the total market delivery," he said, adding that the only sector experiencing shortfalls was the restaurant industry where French fry varieties mostly processed by McCain, Lamberts Bay and Nature’s Garden in South Africa were used.

Source and photo: Farmers Weekly ZA

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