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Northern Star Tomato Factory Faces Closure

2007-07-26 22:20:24
This article has been read 855 times.

The Northern Star Tomato Factory, formerly the Pwalugu Tomato Factory, faces an imminent closure if the importation of under invoiced tomato paste into the country is not checked.

This is as a result of threats from the only local tomato processing company in the country, Trusty Foods Limited, an Italian investment, which buys its raw material from the factory to drastically cut down on its demand as a result of what it described as the "unfair competition" from under-invoiced tomato paste imported into the country.

It is, therefore, anticipated that should the threat be carried out, the numerous farmers in the northern part of the country who depend on the factory as their largest market would lose out while the huge investments from the government to revive the factory will also go to waste.

In an interview, the Managing Director of Trusty Foods Limited, Domenico Falcone, said "we do not fear competition in the market but the playing field must be level to ensure fairness".

He said there were about 30 brands of tomato paste on the market "but it is only La Bianca, our brand that is locally manufactured and well pack¬aged to compete with the foreign brands".

Mr Falcone said none of the importers could sell at the present prices if they declared the right amounts they imported because it is expensive to buy abroad and even export".

Trusty Foods, owned by the Russo family in Italy, is the largest tomato producer in that country and exports million of dollars of tomato paste to the ECOWAS market and the European Union.

The company has the exclusive right to purchase its raw material from Northern star and, therefore, a reduction in its demand would adversely affect the country's huge investment, as well as create problems for the indigenous farmers in the northern regions of the country.

Mr Falcone said Trusty Foods had the capacity to produce 300 twenty-foot containers of tomato paste should it produce at full capacity and demand more from Northern Star, which is also producing below capacity.

However, he said, the competition from the under-invoiced imports of tomato paste was denying the two companies the expected revenue.

The concern of the company comes barely a month after the Daily Graphic chanced on docu¬ments of massive under-invoiced palm oil products into the country.

Investigations revealed that those unscrupulous importers deliberately quoted low figures to enable them to pay low taxes and also price their products below that of the local companies in the country.

Although the Revenue Agencies Governing Board (RAGB) and the National Security office has indicated its resolve to halt the canker, the public wants to hear concrete moves to arrest the culprits, who are known in the market.

The importation of under-invoiced products into the country is said to be denying the state several millions of dollars annually, particularly at a time the government finds it difficult meeting its annu¬al revenue targets.

In its report for this year, the Food First Information and Network Action International (FlAN), a renowned research company in the food industry, noted that surges of prices of tomato paste and chicken parts were having a severe impact on the ability of Ghanaian peasant farmers to feed-their families.

"What is going on is serious and somebody needs to stop it if foreign investors are to take the invitation of the government to foreign investors to invest here seriously," Mr Falcone said.

He said the company was not against competition but there should be fairness for all to compete.

"It saddens my heart when I have to layoff some workers when we are forced to reduce our production,” he said, adding that “we presently employ up to 400 people and indirectly provide a ready market for thousands of peasant farmers in the north”.

Mr Falcone prayed the destination inspection companies and the authorities concerned to assist in reversing the unfortunate trend which was making investments in the country unattractive, if not a waste.

Source: joyFM

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