Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Terry Davis has cloaked himself in the robes of protectionism, after applying for temporary tariff protection for his struggling packaged fruits business, SPC Ardmona, which is suffering from intense import competition and alleged dumping by foreign competitors.
SPC has been whacked by a decline in volume and earnings as the high Australian dollar continues to hit its competitiveness in the supermarket channel, forcing Coca-Cola Amatil to shred the goodwill linked with its $685 million acquisition of the business in 2005.
For the first half of 2012-13 a 10 per cent drop in pre-tax earnings to $44.8 million for Amatil's food and alcohol division was driven by the profit deterioration at SPC.
Unveiling results on Tuesday, Mr Davis laid much of the blame on cheap imported fruit he claimed was being dumped in Australia. He said the shelf prices of many imported fruit and vegetable products were at levels well below the cost of Australian-grown packaged fruit.
Mr Davis said as the restructuring of the SPC business continues the company has applied for temporary tariff protection, and lodged an anti-dumping application with the government. The company is also seeking a government grant to support its restructure, costs and development of a future product innovation platform.