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14.11.2005 General News

Foreign Investors Threaten to Bow Out

By Public Agenda
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Trusty Food Limited (TFL), producers of Pomo brand of tomato paste and spaghetti will this week shut down and go back to Italy, if nothing is done to save it from unbridled competition.

Three months ago, the company sent 200 workers home and is bent on folding up and relocating. "We cannot go home especially at this time when Christmas is just at the corner. Government has not done anything to save us from the Nigeria ban and we cannot wait for another disaster to strike", some angry workers told this newspaper.

For now, except workers in the company's maintenance department, the rest of the workers are not certain of their fate for as long as the company is unable to export to Nigeria, its biggest market as well as sell on the local market.

As if that was not enough, a crippling decision by its sole Ghanaian distributor, Watanmal Group to import from China has all but put a cap on its operations. Trusty Food was solely producing for Watanmal Group for distribution in Ghana, but for sometime now, the distributors have resorted to importing a carbon copy of Pomo tomato paste from China.

This combination of factors has left the company's products frozen at its warehouse at Tema.

Surprisingly, the imported one from China is said to be selling at ¢1,300 and the made in Ghana one selling at ¢1200, hundred cedis less. Workers at Trusty Food Limited are accusing their biggest client, Watanmal Group of breach of contract. The workers claim Watanmal Group used their company, TFL, as a decoy to enter the Ghanaian market only to launch into importing cheap products.

However, when Public Agenda contacted the management of Watanmal Group at Tema, they denied importing Pomo tomato paste from China.

"We are not the importers of Pomo Paste from China and we do not know who they are. We are also not bothered because people have the right to import and sell on the market."

But sources at TFL told Public Agenda that for sometime now, their major client Watanmal Group has not ordered for their products and even when it does, it does not take any substantial number.

The source said initially, TFL was producing about two hundred containers monthly for Watanmal Group, which they later increased to three hundred.

In an attempt to protect their only source of livelihood, the workers of TFL have issued a two-week ultimatum to the importer of Pomo tomato paste to halt the move, else they would destroy the imported brand on the open market.