Tomato union seeks CBN’s intervention in raw materials sourcing

Tomato paste. PHOTO: ALIMENCO

Worried about their inability to access triple concentrates needed to produce tomato paste, Tomato Union of Nigeria (TUN) has sought the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in aiding access to raw materials through its foreign exchange policy.

Spokesman for the Union and Managing Director, Sonia Foods Industries Limited, Nnamdi Nnodebe, said the present forex policy continues to encourage smuggling of inferior tomato paste brands through the borders.

“The only way to save the industry is for CBN to either remove tomato paste triple concentrate from the FX policy restrictions or provide the raw materials in question to the industry; if the local producers of tomato paste get the raw materials directly from CBN this would save the industry from collapse and also help the government avoid creating more job loss.”

“It is no more profitable to produce locally hence the closures. How do you expect producers of tomato paste in Nigeria to compete with their foreign counterparts that have uninterrupted power supply, good roads and distribution network, subsidised loans from their governments. The major material used by the local brands, triple concentrate, has been taken away through this Forex policy” Nnodebe lamented.

Tomato Paste Triple Concentrate is a crucial ingredient used to process consumer products such as packs of tomato paste, ketchup, sauces, among others.

Hitherto, stakeholders had emphasised the need for government to recognize the necessity of the packing industry as an essential component of the tomato paste value chain, without which there can be no link between the farmer and the final consumer.

Nnodebe said: “Christmas and New Year celebrations were dry and if you can remember, we predicted this because you cannot talk about the Christmas or New Year rice and stew without talking about tomato both fresh and paste, as most people use both to bring out the best in their cooking. So many people couldn’t afford tomato products during the festive season and if the FX policy is not lifted Easter celebrations will be the same.”

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