For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. (September 29, 1997)--A group of major American companies and the nations largest restaurant trade association have joined the growing U.S. protest against the antidumping and countervailing duty petition filed this past June against fresh Atlantic salmon from Chile. In a joint letter to Commerce Secretary William Daley and members of Congress nationwide, the companies said they believe the petition "does not serve the interests of the American consumer or the broader interests of U.S. businesses that are involved in bringing food to the American dinner table."
The nine organizations signing the letter include Arrow Air (Florida); Vita Food Products (Illinois); retail supermarket giants Kroger (Pennsylvania), Harris Teeter (North Carolina), and H.E. Butt (Texas); and three nationally recognized chain restaurants: Legal Sea Foods (Massachusetts), Outback Steakhouse (Florida), and the Florida-based Darden Restaurant Group (Red Lobster and Olive Garden). The nations largest restaurant trade association, The National Restaurant Association (Washington, D.C.), also signed the letter.
Of major concern to the signatories of the letter is the fact that the Chilean industry has developed a boneless salmon fillet that has spurred consumer demand for salmon--one of the nations top-selling seafoods at retail and restaurants. "The Chileans have revolutionized the salmon farming industry," the letter states.
"By investing in marketing and in state-of-the-art facilities, the Chilean industry has been successful in developing a completely new product--the salmon fillet with the pin-bones removed," it continues. "The U.S marketplace has responded enthusiastically to this new product."
The letter-writers have said they do not believe the U.S. salmon farmers who filed the petition could meet either current or future demand for the boneless salmon fillets produced in Chile. "The Maine and Washington state producers who have brought this suit against the Chileans are not even producing the same product," the letter points out. "They sell mostly whole fish, not fillets. In addition, by their own design, and because of geographical and other regulatory restrictions, they do not have the capacity to produce more than 5 percent of the total U.S. demand for salmon."
Many of the signatories to the letter are members of the Salmon Trade Alliance, an ad hoc group of 55 nationwide businesses, trade associations, and individuals speaking up for Americans who would be harmed by tariffs on fresh Atlantic salmon imports from Chile. The U.S. Department of Commerce is currently investigating the petitioners claims against Chilean salmon imports. The U.S. International Trade Commission will make its preliminary determinations on duties November 19, 1997, and a final determination is due March of 1998.