Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association, voiced his concerns about new trade tariffs this week before the US Trade Representative.

The proposed trade tariffs on European and other foreign processed food products would add 100% ad valorem import duties on such specialty products as cheese, olive oil and jams.

Kafarakis, speaking on behalf of the 3,800 small businesses represented by the association, made several points:

  • The proposed tariffs will directly impact small and medium-sized enterprises that drive the $140+ billion specialty food industry.
  • Many of the processed foods being singled out by the USTR are specialty foods such as cheeses—the highest volume product in specialty foods, at $4.2 billion in annual sales.
  • Specialty food producers and retailers, which represent 15% of total retail food sales and are growing at a rate seven times that of mass market foods, offer both domestic and international products, based on their customers’ preferences.