tv Doc Film - The Empire of Red Gold Deutsche Welle May 17, 2018 3:15am-4:00am CEST
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i grew up in perform in the south of france. the region is known for the high quality of the amount of. one day i learned something that shocked me. the crown jewel of french tomato sauce had been bought by a chinese investor you eat. he decided to produce tomato sauce from performance using tomatoes grown in china. you set out to conquer the sector. local partners seem delighted by the deal. but i did wonder why china had suddenly decided to compete with france and italy in
china tomato sauce isn't even on the menu. i speak to here is investigating the circumstances behind this new trend. i discovered different kinds of tomatoes genetically modified tomatoes which are still largely unfamiliar nearer. these are two later that are very firm fruit you can drop them they were old first. i discovered a misunderstood and fascinating industry an industry born from the success of italian destroyer money. and reinvented in the united states in china by a few entrepreneurs who turned it into what they call bread gold. in california i met one of the leaders. this industry
a multimillionaire obsessed with efficiency and success. in italy i saw work is exploited in africa farmers facing ruin. for the past two years i've been collecting source's juices soups concentrates peel tomatoes and catch up from around the world the story i'm going to tell you is not simply about the canned food it's a story about the sometimes absurd nature of our globalized world. it's winners. and it's losers the women than men who feed us all without ever seeing the fruits of their labor. in america discover how china produces its tomatoes i have to go on
a long journey. three thousand kilometers from beijing in the west of china. to show. the province was incorporated into china in one nine hundred forty nine and was long inaccessible to foreigners. it is home to a muslim group or eagles who today are a minority. over time the region became populated by millions of han chinese the country's largest ethnic group. all at the initiative of beijing. land it is a journey back in time. here
child. i think because i miss my native region. i miss my parents so for me it's the same my wife and i work far from home. my native breaching is in the poorest areas before it's hard to find work there. moves in duval. normal g.c. and his wife come from the sichuan region three thousand kilometers away and the equivalent of one euro cents but you know if tomatoes. can we. can call. my wife and i collected one hundred sixty or one hundred seventy bags between us we earn two point two renminbi per bag. together my wife and i
sometimes earn four hundred renminbi per day or sometimes less but the yield varies according to the fields that. she reaches. the people. that speak with an aunt of about forty euros a day between the two of them. only the poorest families in china are willing to do this difficult work. there and you think i know you are. for us han chinese for this work is considered unworthy of respect but the people here do it because they have no choice so how. many come from deep in the mountains. china is still a developing country and human. and they can wait before. these low wages also mean low production costs. i'm beginning to understand why chinese
tomatoes are replacing those from france and why chinese workers are edging out european ones. but whose idea was it that china should become a leading tomato producer china is one of the few countries where people don't eat tomato sauce it's a paradox i went to beijing in search of some answers. in that fluent suburb i met again with you you're the investor who bought the french look about norm brand. he's one of the main players in the chinese tomato industry locally he's known as general you this is the first time he's agreed to be interviewed before a foreign camera crew. the majority will chill a hole do you get was intuition you know what would it be treasure to study in the
global tomato industry if i proposed that china should become a major production base in the world should your friend you could pull your shit. today china is the world's second largest tomato producer the country's market leader is the acme food giant coffee good tune playgroup. the factories assistant director takes me on a tour. five thousand tonnes of fresh tomatoes are delivered here every day. the tomatoes are then processed first the skins and seeds are removed kneading behind the pulp and juice. then the water is removed even behind the
tomato concentrate. these bats the tomatoes are sterilized and turned in the concentrate the red gold of this industry it takes six kilos of fresh tomatoes to make one kilo of this paste i mean honestly it was simple they are. now i know where my favorite tomato source comes from. within a surprisingly short amount of time china has become a super power in the tomato industry. thousands of tons of concentrate are exported from here to countries around the world. only if it is you know what we sell to more than one hundred thirty countries. in europe we supply the netherlands the united kingdom in russia. asia we supply
japan malaysia and indonesia and there's australia. you'll find our tomato concentrate all over the world i mean it is in your town for. hundreds of companies around the world then turn this concentrate into other tomato products. i think source is a lot of products if europe already contains. ingredients from the factory for our freedoms we are selling a lot of to u.k. to germany used to are for sure we are tossed in i all you know national big or any rational names heinz you know. call me and ask her out so all these big claims
made by far right of. the us company heintz is the biggest buyer of tomatoes in the world the multinational corporation is the first to have made the tomato a multibillion dollar industry. every year heinz sells six hundred fifty million bottles of catch up in more than one hundred forty countries. i decided to pay a visit to the very beginnings of the tomato industry in the united states. according to legend it was in this modest two story house that the entrepreneur
henry john heinz laid the foundations of his empire. it is the story of a billionaire who started out with nothing. the story of the heinz dynasty is the american dream. i have a photo taken as a small souvenir. how did heinz become the world's number one catch up almost one hundred fifty years ago . henry john heinz was the first to make catch up a mass consumer product his slogan was our field is the world.
the son of german immigrants heinz sold horseradish jam meat pickles condiments and catch up. a puritan who was obsessed with hygiene heintz used clear glass for his bottles. this pledge of transparency and quality helped him gain the confidence of consumers. want is a catalyst i mean he was a he was a true hero was all about. money and marketing treated his people well but the end result was he wanted to make money. in twenty thirteen the heinz company was bought by warren buffett for twenty three billion dollars. it was the largest takeover in the history of the acme food industry.
the arrival of the billionaire entrepreneur was not good news for heinz employees. so afraid in the book it's the end of an era in lemming talk after more than one hundred years the heinz plant has sold at century old factory today hundreds of heinz employees are now out of a job. i met with some of the people who were laid off after the takeover. in leamington a town with a population of twenty eight thousand nearly one thousand people lost their jobs when the catch up giant decided to close its largest planted in north america. a year later half are still out employed that's the twenty year service war that you
got eyes yes i mean that's when a order very nice for the first road and then i got down and stayed there but the coast guard here in leamington no one expected that a man whose fortune is estimated at seventy three billion dollars would close the factory couple things i've always heard was heinz will never close down people people need food and they'll never be a tornado here two thousand and ten there was a tornado in two thousand and fourteen heinz closed down so it just goes to throw you that never say never because things happen like that. i understand that they can say all they want but you know they say well it wasn't i love enough we wasted too much space it was this that was that what it comes down to is it costs them money and they don't want to pay a decent wage they wanted a third country or third world wage and they did not have you give up. your
wage in half or do this or do that they're going to close it so anything that they come up with a union can go back and say well here's a here's a money saver right here to back we're going to close. the plant produced a one hundred percent canadian tomato juice and catch up. it may sound surprising but in southern canada the climate is ideal for growing tomatoes. since one thousand and nine heinz offered work for generations of local families. since acquiring heintz warren buffett has close to five plants and cut seven thousand four hundred jobs about a quarter of the company's workforce. one factories are closing
all over the world many more are opening in china. who sold the chinese the industrial techniques to make this concentrate. that's a question i put to new york. oh is that while you're fine in the red industry the red industry of tomato sauce italy played the role of marco polo in fact he early equipment was offered to china by the. armando gandolfi is the marco polo of the tomato industry. in palm a it's an e the gandolfi family have been tomato merchants for three generations. they're one of the world's largest sellers of tomato concentrate.
started going to china because we saw it as an opportunity. that my first trip to china was very interesting because i discovered at china that was completely different from the one we see today jane of this think those people wearing mounts a till now it. was a very few cars. bicycles. short it was still an ancient china so it's made me feel a bit of a pioneer. you know. should i shall be shall the italian manufacturers supplied us with a quick mint from parma from your horse and they came here to provide training the twine and everything was organized by the italians.
thanks to this technology transfer today china is the world's leading exporter of this read. nearly one million tons of concentrate leave the port of tianjin each year. one of the main destinations is it's. a journey that takes weeks. in some manner thousands of tons of chinese concentrate our unloaded week in and week out. the chinese concentrate is then processed in italy. the recipe is simple. take chinese concentrate dilute it in a little water at a pinch of salt and you're done. these cans of been exported to africa the middle
east and the rest of europe. this is how we end up consuming chinese tomatoes while believing they were grown under the italian sun. there's nothing italian here except the name and the flag so is there anything illegal here no. i would say basically what you're talking about is misleading this year's show it's part of the company's response of the educational responsibility for it to try to give an image of serious or seriousness and to try not to cheat consumers by telling this looks italian is not exactly. one full say amazon of spain is also one of the largest traders in tomato concentrate. each year he buys some six hundred thousand tonnes of fresh tomatoes for resale in the form of concentrate.
the giants of the agro industry trust him. one hundred see amazon or traverse the globe in search of the best tomato harvests . while the talons are supplied by china he prefers california. today tomato is a red goat today. california has been growing tomatoes for many many years and growing steadily the acreage. as consumption increased. they have you know good technology they've got the highest sales in the world as
a country as a region. and it's always a it's so it's always good to know what what's going on here. this is the largest tomato field in the world tomatoes as far as the eye can see. california produces a third of the world's tomato sauce. in these fields nothing is picked by hand it's all harvested by machine. chris rufa is the undisputed leader of the american tomato industry. his company
morningstar produces nearly the same amount of tomato paste as all of china. the production processes in his plant have been optimized and every single movement has been timed down to the last second. hundred trucks come and go every day each day they offload twenty thousand tons of fresh tomatoes their stuff pretty far in the fridge before they say fifty sack. so when i come here that's already pretty pretty much. saving fifteen seconds per truck saves the equivalent of one working day per year.
i'm paranoid i think we could do a lot better. and i see more detail and size a lot of things to fix a lot of things you improve so i don't consider we do that well. morningstar to fish and company very much because they have managed to reduce costs also the supply chain from the field to the trucking of finished goods for dollar investment in a plant. to produce much more. they can produce more than six million tons of fresh tomatoes that's more than all italy. three factories it's impressive really amazing. every hour chris ruthless factory transforms more than a million kilos of tomatoes into concentrate under the supervision of only two employees as i go on my lap hour forty four they say get this excuse i can profit
in this factory which has been automated to the extreme many employees have been put out of work and replaced by computers there aren't a whole factory is too seasonal they're also. going to share a car they call an ecology and there's a major media out there do that because they're like the plant managers. the world's largest tomato processing company runs with only seventy workers push it. chris ruefully likes parables for him competition on the market is like playing a five set tennis match. does he play tennis with another person you're there you're proving your game to the competition allows you improve your game if you're a game you have more fun. that's what a competitive system is all about if it is getting the people with better ideas better processes to expand and kindly telling those that aren't doing as well off
that maybe they should do something else maybe they shouldn't play tennis maybe they should take up golf first money the biggest players in the tomato industry are in fia's competition the united states it's in the and china. in the war over profits it seems anything goes my next stop is changing. its home to one of the because chinese exports of tomato products. thank. you thank. you. managing director ma young gives me a tool. so far
nothing seems out of the ordinary. even not even a look i don't know here's a seventy gram can of tomato concentrate for you can our machine can produce three hundred cans per minute of over every day a machine can produce two containers if you will go. the first surprise greets me in the warehouse. the branding gina and the design seems strangely familiar. she's geno's chinese cousin the famous brand produced in italy which actually contains chinese tomato concentrate. to keep up with the competition chinese producers are packaging their concentrate in cans decorated with italian
labels and the colors of italy. it's likely that we consume chinese tomatoes far more often than we realize all rot. in our main markets are in the middle east and africa and here of little but also supply some countries in europe such as germany and sweden. the factory has a secret weapon in this trade war against italy one the director prefer to leave unmentioned. a white substance is added to the tomato sauce in large quantities. this ingredient does not appear on the label. interpreter asked the director what it is you do have
a dot on you are you. going on i was young and at the moment i can't answer that this is a recipe i can't talk about it. in us so we haven't been the most wanted with you or i were when i was all right we can talk about it for a while when we hit him now he's additives are legitimate we filed our recipe with the chinese food inspection authorities so we only add what is filed there cannot come up. we get a new aid. percent of our product is tomato pocket and the remaining twenty percent includes soybean starch and maltose are. the relative amounts very. well known to come out of pocket and have up or were you know much about what the interpreter says these aren't his questions they're mine and he doesn't have to answer to that or it's best if we don't talk about the substances that are at it.
according to my research some chinese concentrate contains up to fifty five percent additives. get into such cheaper than tomatoes so this low with production costs. the companies that purchased chinese tomato concentrate don't seem to mind the additives. despite this rather dubious practice the company has no difficulty obtaining exports difficult it's. only the consumer is kept in the dock. i was thing i must say is that these people. are declaring that to the buyer they're telling the buyer that we're going to put so much of this in this and this . and this is the price we don't put this this is the prices don't need a higher price but it's pure tomato based then they add fiber twenty percent fiber
three percent color or whatever that it's a little another price so the buyer knows it he's aware of it doesn't appear late. but the buyer knows that distributing companies that buy thousands of tonnes of chinese based in cannes under the their own brand in the distributors brand in africa know that the products will have these things and stuff like that. ghana in western africa has more than twenty eight million residents and a growing economy. globalization is changing eating habits here too tomatoes have become very popular. and i. don't remember tasting talbott had nearly making the meat jellyfish taste the
conservative leadership here. in the fleet. the secret behind delicious meals. the local tomato market is collapsing. in recent years foreign imports of soared. so who is conquering this new market. the vendor tells us all these cans of tomato sauce come from china so they're already and. i make my way to this elegant and well guarded house and find chinese tomato baron you yeat and his son. general you came here a few months ago. he has a keen eye for
a good opportunity. tomato consumption is soaring in west africa and his presence is part of a policy that is promoted at the highest levels of the chinese government. you're doing what's in the sheets which is in beijing a proposal for a new silk road is under discussion jock should say no to all of you and you are in fact she would be the beginning of the new silk road you're on to find the ghana is the end usually until our goal sure won't go in the future it's certain that china will be the world's superpower in the tomato production industries there's no question what shall we have toward chango or transfer towards our kind he's going to give. this confident talk reflects a reality africa is fast becoming the next big market for products made in china.
in this market value so there's hundreds of shelves that sells tomato paste here and the prize those fifty price at least in the markets is ninety percent chinese factories to produce. because they have invested so much into the machinery is thing you know way out to do it so they will produce for anybody whether it's only am whether it's for their own word that they can sell in the african market so in terms that the chinese producers seem to find a way to to to digest their own excess syrup was. gonna is in the midst of an economic transformation. china is relocating a part of its production line to take advantage of even cheaper labor here. here chinese tomato products are being processed.
oh you know you just they put too much. then. you can teach them how to do it but you can't do it for them you understand the only thing we have to do ourselves is adding these ingredients to everything else the workers have to do it to anyone who has. done a and workers are paid just about a quarter of what chinese workers receive the equivalent of just one hundred euros a month this year in china as you know the global economy is not that well now you see a lot of fire to shutting down moving to southeast asia will be. moving to we are now moving to indonesia malaysia those areas you see especially in that little purse business there you see a lot of archer move into africa cultures. but so while the first token does start to establish our presence was closer to the market. can chinese tomatoes are cheaper than fresh tomatoes grown in ghana. so purchasing chinese tomatoes
destroys the local markets. i find in the morning hundreds of workers head to the to martin fields of southern italy. most come from africa their journey across the mediterranean ended here. to survive they have no choice but to harvest tomatoes. mousse and semen and mohamed so late men came here from sudan in search of a better life. they've been living here for
a few years already often working under the most difficult condition. so nobody people believe. i met in libya with other migrants landed first in sicily and found how difficult it was to get work. on up this is the only work we can do that's all when i was. illegally without a contract but you know always off the books. about the same but enough of a nail. in coolio many thousands of migrants labor in the fields. here the harvest is still done by hand. there's no room or money for machines many come from africa of his come from india romania and bulgaria they are paid an average of twenty euros a day for ten to twelve hours of work on a blazing sun. while new man telling us about my god when i go to the supermarket and i look at
a bottle of tomato sauce i think that all the people who buy this can or bottle have no idea what lies behind it it's you want to stop this is a form of modern day slavery we die for the harvest here come to did i caught up. in the cause of you to rebuke it the most terrible thing i experienced was when a young man from my country called muhammad died while he was picking tomatoes right next to me. and shot by me when i bit so i guess i'll go to the end of the model it was forty degrees celsius since he had no water and was working too hard to be done already i heard the cries and screams and looked up and i saw that he had fallen. you know when i approached him i heard the other saying he was already dead there was nothing we could do more.
in a field you can't call out an ambulance we don't have that right the rights of for other people not only is the stuff. in order also even. more us red gold has become a nightmare. the bosses are trading in blood. must. not so much it it will more the already in two thousand in my opinion the heads of the businesses are guilty. so are the governments. they are all guilty of letting people work like this like slaves with no human rights. since the dream.
today it's a layman works for various cooperatives that produce mainly for the german market. for me to models now have a bitter aftertaste the taste of economic forces that concentrate profits in the hands of a few to the detriment of many the constant demand for profit among major tomato producers has laid the groundwork for brutal labor market especially in low wage countries. global demand for tomatoes is growing by nearly three percent a year with no end in sight. if the chinese begin to consume tomato products demand will explode. a prospect that new year welcomes. if they want to you actually i believe that in five or six years of my adult the next generation of children who grow up eating fast food and with the rising
standard of living and the pace of life in china when your time tomato products will eventually enter the chinese market off in korea and japan the average consumption is eight to nine kilos per person and germany and the us ten imagine an average consumption of seven or eight kilos of tomato products in china which has a population of one point three billion that's ten billion kilos a year that's why i believe that growth prospects in this industry are huge fan of the ha.
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