AFI Association of Food Industries

AFI Serving the U.S. Food Import Sector

2023 Processed Foods Report

Brent Danielson
Schreiber Foods International

We all know never to underestimate the impact a message from a customer can have. Our section proved that within the past year. In June 2022, a court in Greece issued a ruling with potentially drastic implications for the olive sector. The ruling mandated the restriction of usage of the name “Kalamata” to olives grown in the Mesinia region of Greece.

This happened immediately before the Fancy Food Show in New York, so AFI President Bob Bauer and AFI Chairman John Sessler were able to set up meetings at the show with U.S. importers and Greek exporters, including the president of Panhellenic Association of Manufacturers, Packers and Exporters of Table Olives, the olive industry’s trade association in Greece. By the second day of the show, a letter was written and ready for delivery to officials in Greece.

The U.S. imports more than 30,000 tons of Kalamata olives annually at a value of at least $100 million, so this was not a small issue. Consumers in the U.S. are familiar with and look for the Kalamata name when buying olives. The court decision would have meant less than 2 percent of the Kalamata olives arriving in the U.S. today could continue to be called Kalamata olives. AFI said the ensuing confusion that would happen when consumers saw the same olives with a different name would be a huge detriment to sales.

Additionally, AFI said, Greek producers exporting retail packages of Kalamata olives would be further punished. They wouldn’t have been able to label the product as Kalamata olives. Meanwhile, those exporting in bulk would have been able to label the product in accordance with the Greek regulations by using a different name. However, when that product arrived in the U.S., those packing the product would legally have been allowed to label the product as Kalamata olives.

AFI made other points as well and closed with a request that the Ministry of Agriculture take immediate action to avert the consequences of the court’s decision.

Things didn’t happen overnight but there’s no doubt a letter from an association representing importers in Greece’s largest export market for Kalamata olives helped stress the importance of this issue. By approximately the end of the summer, the situation was rectified.

I closed my report last year by saying that having an association in place creates the infrastructure to quickly educate the trade about the issues and create a plan to mount a defense – another example of the value AFI brings to our sector. This olives issue further illustrates that point.

Last year I was referring to the antidumping duty petitions filed on preserved mushrooms from Poland, the Netherlands, Spain and France and another antidumping (and countervailing) duty petition filed on white grape juice concentrate from Argentina.

The mushroom filing impacts retail pack only and no AFI members produce or import the targeted juice concentrate but the fact that AFI exists provided all those who would or might be affected to quickly get important information and then, for the mushroom sector, pool resources. That pooling of resources led to a unified message and significant cost savings for all involved.

Antidumping duty filings create a problem the impacted sector must monitor for many years. Almost all filings result in some sort of punitive duty being imposed and then it takes ongoing coordination between U.S. importers and foreign suppliers to take steps available to try to lower or eliminate the duties over time.

AFI-member companies – U.S. importers and foreign suppliers alike – had a significant competitive advantage over non-member companies in all three situations noted above. We were armed with information to gauge each issue’s impact on our company, we received regular updates on the status of the issue and critical dates involved with all three and we had a vehicle through which we could work together that resulted in cost savings and a cohesive message.

My time as section chairman is ending. I hope the report by the incoming Processed Foods Section Chairman in next year’s edition of this publication doesn’t include details of yet another issue we’ve had to face. But it’s good to know that if something arises, AFI will out in front of it.

2023 U.S. Food Import Industry Annual Report

Chairman's Report - John Sessler

North American Olive Oil Association - Mouna Aissaoui

Processed Foods - Brent Danielson

Nut & Agricultural Products - Richard Rosenblatt

National Honey Packers & Dealers - Andy Sargeantson

Regulatory and Trade Issues

Food Importers Facing New Enforcement Environment

Common FSVP-Related Questions



Association of Food Industries: Serving the U.S. Food Import Trade Since 1906
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