Italians urged to boycott mobbed-up tomatoes

Mark Duff Feb 9, 2011
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Italians urged to boycott mobbed-up tomatoes

Mark Duff Feb 9, 2011
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JEREMY HOBSON: The mafia has infiltrated the tomato market. In fact, Italians are being urged to boycott one of the most famous Tomato brands — from Sicily — in order to take money away from Italian organized crime.

The BBC’s Mark Duff has more from Milan.


MARK DUFF: If Tony Soprano went shopping for tomatoes he’d probably keep an eye out for the Pachino label. Pachinos are reputed to be the best of the bunch — and they aren’t cheap for shoppers to buy. But not all that money goes to the tomato farmer — allegations have now surfaced that most of the money goes to the mob.

In fact, when a shopper buys $5 worth of tomatoes, the growers typically receives less than 50 cents.

Alessandro di Pietro is a consumer advocate and TV personality in Italy.

ALESSANDRO DI PIETRO: There’s no doubt that every time we pay 11 times what we should, let’s be frank, we’re also putting money into the hands of organized crime.

Di Pietro cited Italy’s top anti-mafia prosecutor to back up his claims and then urged housewives to stop buying the Sicilian-grown tomatoes. That’s infuriated many Sicilians who’ve been trying for decades to shake off their island’s mafia stereotype.

But the country’s parliamentary anti-mafia commission is taking the allegation seriously. It says it’s going to investigate the claim.

In Milan, I’m the BBC’s Mark Duff for Marketplace.

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