Kagome Co, Japan’s biggest maker of ketchup and vegetable juice, said on Wednesday it had halted procurement of tomato paste from China’s Xinjiang region, where Western governments have raised concerns about forced labour.
The move comes as Western and Japanese companies face boycotts and a public backlash in China over comments expressing concern about the alleged abuses of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. China has denied all accusations of abuse. “The growing human rights issue is one factor that we’ve taken into consideration, but that’s not the only reason for stopping procurement there,” Kagome spokesman Kazumasa Kitagawa told. Tomato paste from the Xinjiang region had accounted for only about 1% of all of Kagome’s production. The company considers cost, sustainability and other factors when deciding where to get its raw materials, Kitagawa said. Until now, much international attention has been focused on cotton from Xinjiang, with global fashion brands voicing criticism of the repression of Uyghurs in that region and facing boycotts from the Chinese public as a result.
China is one of the major tomato exporters in the world, accounting for 35 percent of the total, or 62.76 million tons, in 2019. The Xinjiang region in western China is known for its cotton and tomatoes ude to its plentiful sunlight and temperature fluctuations between day and night