Japan's ketchup king joins Xinjiang boycott with tomato ban

Nikkei -- Apr 14
NAGOYA, Japan -- Leading Japanese ketchup producer Kagome has stopped importing tomatoes from China's Xinjiang, Nikkei learned Tuesday, joining the growing ranks of Western brands that have ceased sourcing materials from the region over reported abuses against Uyghur Muslims.

Kagome, which also makes pasta sauce and tomato juice, halted the import of Xinjiang-grown tomatoes last year. Tomatoes that have already been imported will no longer be used in processed products this year.

Along with costs and quality, "human rights problems have become a factor in making decisions," said a Kagome representative.

Kagome is believed to be the first major Japanese corporation to stop doing business with the region over the Uyghur issue. A host of popular Western brands, including H&M and Nike, have stopped buying materials made in the region, which in turn spurred a backlash from Chinese consumers.

The impact on Kagome's operations appears minimal. The procurement of Xinjiang tomatoes, which is shipped in paste form, has been declining over the past few years. Xinjiang tomatoes currently represent less than 1% of the tomatoes used by the group. The produce will be replaced by tomatoes from other nations, and there will be no impact on production.

Kagome has always disclosed on its website that it produces raw ingredients in Xinjiang. The company performs regular visits to the factories and fields and has "confirmed that the tomatoes used in the past were not produced in an environment that violated human rights," said a Kagome representative.

China was the world's top producer of tomatoes in 2019, providing 62.76 million tons, or roughly 35% of global production, according to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. At China occupies.

The Xinjiang region in particular is ideal for growing tomatoes given ample amounts of sunlight in the summer and the difference in temperature between day and night.

- Nikkei