Burger King Will Not Pay Extra For Tomatoes, May Buy Them Elsewhere

Burger King has been fighting with tomato pickers in southern Florida for two years, refusing to pay a penny more per pound. Now the burger chain has announced that they may simply buy their tomatoes somewhere else.

From Marketplace:

Just after Thanksgiving, the Florida tomato pickers held a large rally outside Burger King headquarters in Miami.

Now it’s surfaced that three weeks later, BK sent a note to suppliers saying it may no longer buy tomatoes from southwestern Florida.

Spokesperson Keva Silversmith says the letter is just a normal part of the company’s planning.

Keva Silversmith: Our contingency planning is based on a variety of issues, a freeze being one of them, hurricane issues, which are always an issue, as well as a possible labor conflict.

McDonald’s and Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, etc.) have already agreed to the one penny increase. To avoid southern Florida, Marketplace says that Burger King will probably have to buy their tomatoes from Mexico.

A cent too far for Burger King [Marketplace]
(Photo:Morton Fox)

Comments

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  1. hi says:

    yum, tastes like tacos

  2. Black Bellamy says:

    Ok everyone, you know what to do.

    “Yeah, extra tomatoes on that, please!”

    Have it YOUR way!

  3. HOP says:

    i guess they can get ‘em from china……….

  4. HOP says:

    .

  5. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Actually, they’ll probably taste like nothing at all. There is a reason the Florida tomatoes, like our citrus are high demand produce items. Have you ever ate an orange that looked great but didn’t have much flavor? Odds are it came from California. The soil here is much better for growing highly acidic produce than other areas.

  6. youbastid says:

    It’s been a few years since I’ve been to BK. I saw that disgusting picture, and it made me really crave BK. Amazing.

  7. loganmo says:

    I won’t be satisfied until my tomatoes have enough lead to protect my thryoid from nuclear war.

  8. loganmo says:

    That’s fine…I prefer my condiments to have enough lead to protect my thyroid in the event of a nuclear war-bring on the Sino-tomatoe (hey, it rhymes!)

  9. loganmo says:

    sorry for the duplicate.

  10. glass says:

    ew. mexomatoes.

  11. MattO says:

    i soo want a whopper right now..

  12. Sidecutter says:

    Ok, seriously. How much more “Cheap Fucker” could Burger King go here? Even if they used a whopping one million pounds of tomatoes a year, that’s still a measely TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. When we’re talking about a company with the sort of budget and income Burger King has, that’s like adding a nickel to the cost of a car for us…

  13. Electroqueen says:

    Man, BK refused pay more? Cheap @#$@. Everybody else has to…

  14. NoWin says:

    @Sidecutter: …and that’s part of the reason why Bk is not #1.

  15. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    Burger King cares waaaaaay too much for the bottom line.

  16. smitty1123 says:

    Arby’s > all other fast food

  17. Wormfather says:

    I know that picture is supposed to make me want a burger less but guess what? You fail.

    ME WANT CHEEZEBURGER!!!

  18. Nicholai says:

    @Black Bellamy: Yah!!! get em’!!!!
    @HOP: You have to be kidding me.

  19. Wormfather says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on one cotton picking second. Why are they even BSing with florida over this when everyone knows that public really wants Tomacco.

    JEEZ Louise, who the heck is running that place?

  20. MercuryPDX says:

    @Sidecutter: BK will be just as “Cheap Fucker” as Taco Bell and then McDonalds until they both gave in.

  21. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    @Wormfather: If we all lived in The Simpsons, yeah… but real tomacco has lethal amounts of nicotine. One bite, you dead.

  22. homerjay says:

    @HOP: Hell, I’m shocked they already DON’T!

  23. topgun says:

    If they stopped running the ad’s with the creepy king in the big headed costume, they could come up with that penny.

  24. harshmellow says:

    I’m calling BLUFF

  25. nrwfos says:

    This kind of “penny-pinching” is exactly what’s causing a large part of our economy to dive. It’s just an example. Business does need to watch the “bottom-line”, but I would suggest that quality ingredients aren’t the place to scrimp. Tomatoes picked for long-distance delivery will definitely be inferior in taste to locally (or even nationally) grown. Seems to me that the cost of paying for tomatoes from Mexico delivered would allow for the increase (and employment) of the Florida product and jobs for people here. And I certainly hope that all the tomatoes are washed before they go on a burger!

  26. girly says:

    It is depressing to see that they are probably looser with their advertising spending then they are on the actual product.

    Tomatoes from who-knows-where? That would be my “whopper freakout”

  27. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    Tomatogate!

  28. Razzler says:

    Those burgers look amazing. Sucks that the nearest Burger King is 20 minutes away.

  29. winstonthorne says:

    What’s wrong with this company negotiating by threatening to take their business elsewhere? It’s the same as one of us telling our credit card company that if they don’t lower their rate, we’ll go with a different card – negotiation tactics often include threats of lost revenue.

    I hope the tomato growers in Florida understand that if BurgerKing moves their business to Mexico, the growers stand to lose far more than BK does, and if the rest of the fast food industry follows suit, it could spell disaster for their entire operation. With that in mind, it might be beneficial for the growers to negotiate with BurgerKing.

  30. bluesunburn says:

    @loganmo:

    I think you mean iodine…

  31. Sudonum says:

    It’s not just BK, from this November[www.nytimes.com] Op-Ed piece:

    “Now the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange has threatened a fine of $100,000 for any grower who accepts an extra penny per pound for migrant wages. The organization claims that such a surcharge would violate “federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering.” It has not explained how that extra penny would break those laws; nor has it explained why other surcharges routinely imposed by the growers (for things like higher fuel costs) are perfectly legal.”

    i”m not saying BK isn’t wrong. I’m just pointing out that there is other opposition to this than that coming from the fast food industry.

  32. Wormfather says:

    @harshmellow:

    OK, lets look at this line…bare with me…

    BK goes ahead and pays the extra price for the tomatoes.

    This sets precedent and drives all of the aggricultural goods they need up $0.01.

    BK has three choices:

    Cut their own employee costs
    Loose investment dollars
    Pass it on to the consumer

    The first two arnt feasable, so we’re going to asume they go with option three.

    I then have to pay more for my whoppers so I go from maybe 5 a year to 2 a year.

    BK’s profit drops

    They loose investment dollars

    They cut employee costs

    They cut back on shipments for all aggricultural goods

    The tomato people cut costs

    So you see, it may not be in the tomato people’s interest to push this one.

    *this post has NOT been edited for spelling or grammar.

  33. bunnymen says:

    Well. Although they have a tasty grilled chicken sandwich that is quite reasonable in the calorie department, I guess I’ll just have to do without. Fuck you, Burger King.

  34. FessLove says:

    Is this really even a story? Maybe I’m biased because I hate tomatoes so much…

  35. Myotheralt says:

    @MattO: didnt you hear? they pulled the whopper from the menu. btw, anyone who has seen those commercials where the customer ordered a whopper and received a big mac, wouldnt that be grounds to sue? (everything else is)

  36. balthisar says:

    I find Mexican tomatoes from Mexican supermarkets more delicious. They’re bred for taste, not for American supermarket beauty (not sure which BK uses, though).

    What’s more local? A Florida tomato in Arizona, or a Sonora tomato in Arizona?

    Florida oranges are crap for eating, but there’s nothing better for OJ! For eatin’ oranges, California’s and Arizona’s are my favorites.

    Oh, why is this posted here?

  37. smitty1123 says:

    @winstonthorne: Bingo. Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

  38. girly says:

    @myotheralt: I can’t believe that anyone would think they’d really serve big macs.

    I hate that they got on the ‘candid camera’ bandwagon that’s so popular now.

    I always wondered with shows like punk’d why they weren’t arrested for impersonating a police officer for their stunts where they pose as police.

  39. manok says:

    I always get extra tomatoes and then throw them out. I like to mess with their bottom line.

  40. csdiego says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m happy to pay an extra penny per Whopper if it will go to the tomato pickers.

    When you consider that there’s no more than 4 ounces of tomatoes on a burger, that would be more like $.0025.

  41. theblackdog says:

    Suddenly I wish I was back in L.A. so I could go get an In-N-Out Burger.

  42. Jon Parker says:

    The nice thing about this is that by boycotting BK over this issue I can show my solidarity with the migrant workers, and I’m not ruining my heart with disgusting food. It’s win-win!

  43. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @theblackdog: Yep, thats the best part of living in socal. You get very ambivelant to the plight of McD’s and BK when there are In-N-Out’s and Angelo’s down the street, not to mention hole-in-the-wall mexican thats cheaper and better than taco bell.

  44. Corydon says:

    Doesn’t really matter where tomatoes come from…if they’re picked before they’re ripe and trucked across the country, they’ll be tasteless.

    I used to buy a lot of “fresh” tomatoes at the supermarket for salads, marinara and such. Then I grew my own last summer. What a revelation! I haven’t bought a supermarket tomato since. I’d rather wait until they’re in season again (although I made myself some tomato sauce last summer and froze it…think I’ll have that for dinner tonight :) )

    Regardless of what you think of the local food movement, no-one can deny that there’s absolutely no comparison between the taste of a tomato picked five minutes ago and a tomato from Florida, Mexico, California, or wherever.

    And yeah, Burger King’s just nasty…when they show their food in their commercials it makes me want to vomit. I’m surprised to hear that they actually still offer the odd vegetable on their menu.

  45. KarmaChameleon says:

    @theblackdog: I’m in Phoenix and I’m so having In-N-Out for lunch.

    Animal-style FTW.

  46. luchita says:

    McDonald’s estimated the cost of paying their tomato pickers a penny more as $250,000 per year. That is nothing for an international fast food conglomerate, yet it nearly doubles the hourly earnings of worker picking McDonalds or Taco Bell tomatoes. Burger King should be ashamed of itself both for refusing to pay its workers a living wage, and for pressuring growers to back out of the McDonalds and Taco Bell agreements. You can read more at the website of the CIW, the farm worker organization behind the Burger King campaign: [ciw-online.org]

  47. Sonnymooks says:

    I’m shocked, shocked that Burger King is acting like a ……………….consumer.

    BK acting like a customer who isn’t happy with the price and taking their business elsewhere.

    The nerve.

    Who has ever heard of a consumer shopping around or looking for the best price?

    Wait, something is wrong here.

  48. weg1978 says:

    @Sidecutter: So you would be praising BK for raising it’s prices and passing it on to consumers? Odd. Well, maybe you’d like them to take a hit on the bottom line, which might cause them to underperform financially, and then you could whine about that, a la countrywide or an airline. I can’t believe people actually gripe when a company looks out for your interest by keeping their product cheaper for you.

  49. spinachdip says:

    @winstonthorne: There’s nothing wrong, per se, but unlike money and man-hours, food ingredients aren’t fungible.

    As others have mentioned, a Mexican tomato isn’t the same as Florida tomatoes. And just because you can’t put a direct cost or revenue on something, it doesn’t mean there isn’t value to it.

    There’s a great divide between corporations that get it when it comes to less tangible things like brand value, and ones that can’t see beyond the balance sheet.

  50. Capitalism at work.. can’t really complain and it’s not like the growers work in gulags.

  51. spinachdip says:

    @Sonnymooks: A consumer who base their purchasing decisions on price most likely isn’t get much value out of their purchases, and possibly paying more in the long run. Which isn’t to say consumers shouldn’t price shop, just as retailers shouldn’t try to get good deals out of vendors, but if price is driving the decision (as opposed to the value of the goods or total cost of ownership), then you’re not being particularly smart.

  52. Alvis says:

    If the tomato pricing is such a big deal, then why don’t I get a discount for ordering my sandwich without them?

  53. Queenofthehighway says:

    @Jaysyn: Okay, off topic, but, huh?? The reason why Florida oranges are used for juice is because California oranges taste better than Florida’s eaten fresh.

    Probably the blandness encountered in produce is due to it being shipping all over the western hemisphere before we eat it.

  54. girly says:

    @rainmkr: Well, it kind of bugs me that they seem to care more about their image (based on spending) than the handling of their food.

  55. m0unds says:

    @topgun: Around halloween, I saw someone in a Burger King costume (identical to the one in the commercial) walking up a sidewalk. He had like 10 kids in tow and had a plate in one hand and a sign that said “FREE BURGERS” in the other. I haven’t slept since.

  56. trujunglist says:

    Burger King kinda sucks anyway, but…
    If Florida oranges vs. California oranges is any indication of a tomato’s edibility, I’d gladly take the Mexican tomato. Florida oranges are crap for eating, but great as a delicious drink. I rarely drink tomato drinks. Hence, down with Florida tomatoes. Viva Mexico!

  57. WV.Hillbilly says:

    Doesn’t really matter where tomatoes come from… they’re all picked by mexicans anyway.
    They might as well go home and pick ‘em.

  58. Teki says:

    all thing evil come from florida

  59. trollkiller says:

    Ok I am going to sound like a real hard ass here but F*ck the migrant worker or in reality the criminal alien migrant worker. (Mexican 50%, Guatemalan 30%, Haitian 10% and other nationalities (mostly African-American) 10%.) [www.ciw-online.org]

    Why should they get a doubling of wages without anymore output? If the farmer feels his workers need a raise he can do like every other business and give them one. Then he takes that extra cost and raises the price on his product. Just like every other business.

    This is an attempt to extort money from the fast food industry in order to “help” people. If you are a tomato picker and the wages offered are not enough, DON’T take the job! They do this work because they get paid more here then they would back home.

    @luchita: The math is not adding up. There are only 2500 workers in this coalition [www.ciw-online.org] If the total cost to McD’s is just $250,000 then each worker would receive a measly $100 over the season. That would hardly be a doubling a wages even if Taco Bell and Burger King joined in.

    And before anybody thinks I am for businesses taking advantage of criminal aliens I am not. As far as I am concerned if you knowingly hire a criminal alien you should be fined or jailed. If you don’t pay the promised wage because the criminal alien has no recourse, you should be fined or jailed.

  60. Freedomboy says:

    Lotta heartless f*cks on here, hope the poor stick never hits you on the head with a couple of kids and no cash. sheesh.

  61. dantsea says:

    Wow, someone at BK World HQ is a right bastard, this is definitely the corporate equivalent of smiling sweetly and then extending one’s middle finger.

    On the other hand, at least they won’t be exploiting the Immokalee pickers any more, so the CIW and affiliated protestors can still claim mission accomplished.

  62. jonworld says:

    I don’t want my tomatoes from Mexico! There was some lady who ate a taco at a restaurant in Mexico and a worm started growing in her brain. Apparently the cook didn’t wash his hands after dropping a deuce. The tomato pickers can’t be any better.

  63. trollkiller says:

    @jonworld: Most likely she got the worm from an undercooked piece of pork.

  64. Red_Eye says:

    Well at least with the long drive from mexico perhaps my wife wont have to put up with green tomatoes on her Whoppers anymore. FFS 99% of the time here in metro Atlanta the tomatoes arent even CLOSE to ripe.

    @Alvis: Because you got it your way and they drones in the kitchen had to actually differentiate from the norm. Its people like you who order custom that make it difficult to replace people with robots. :)

  65. chilled says:

    Consumerists will love this! Just got a coupon book in my mailbox that has almost every thing at BK BOGO!! I don’t eat there much,but thats a good deal..I’ll probably get the original chik sandwich deal,immediately followed by an Alky!!

  66. FMulder says:

    @trollkiller: uhm, African-Americans are Americans, most of whom are descended from people who were here when lots of European immigrants stumbled poor, tired, (blah blah) off the boats in the early 1900s. They aren’t criminal aliens, and they are home, and they deserve a fair wage — just like everyone – for the work they do. Maybe they all deserve more money because they aren’t being paid fairly now?

    One of the biggest problems in America is just sheer greed and selfishness – this bitter bitter disgust for people who aren’t white, middle/upper/wealthy and don’t fit a certain image. It is the same value that means a blonde white girl lost is an unstoppable new story and four poor, asian babies thrown off a bridge is a barely noticed story.

    How greedy are you that a penny more for people picking tomatoes is something you angrily resist? Like they are already getting so much money that for a penny more they should be picking, say, twice as fast? Yeah, with all their perks and high-salaries, those greedy folks don’t deserve a penny more, right?

    But sure, let’s ensure that a few more indolent corporate executives get a million more each per year to furnish their third home, at the same time their company gets ‘politically supported’ to overcome bad management and corruption?

    And sure, let’s make sure that we spend billions of dollars, and risks millions of lives, to invade another oil-rich country just to make sure your lazy A** doesn’t pay a penny a more to gas up your preferred ‘conspicuous consumption/gas guzzling’ car. How many ways is ‘the system’ subsidizing your excesses?

    But right, let’s not pay those tomato pickers a penny more, THEY are so greedy, and don’t deserve it!

  67. theblackdog says:

    @KarmaChameleon: *sob* I used to live in Phoenix, and I miss my quarterly run to In-N-Out for a double done animal style.

  68. theblackdog says:

    @m4ximusprim3: Oh tell me about it! I used to live in New Mexico and I was *always* at the hole in the wall joints. I could never figure out why there were folks who would eat at the Taco Bell Toxic Hell there.

    Such better food…I’m so going to have to make a visit the next time I go back to NM.

  69. Sidecutter says:

    @mercurypdx: Yeah, but they did give in. Burger King is actually trying to circumvent the issue by changing suppliers. Little bit worse than fighting it and then deciding it’s not worth the trouble…

  70. harshmellow says:

    @Wormfather: Maybe so it would be better for them to cave to BK, but I am personally tired of the strong-arm tactics of “big anything” try to get their way by bullying and threats. This isn’t negotiation, it’s a fuckin’ tantrum! If BK thinks it can get away with this crap, they can think again. I think I will start throwing my hamburger dollars at another purveyor of burgers….

  71. girly says:

    @trollkiller: For the ones that might be, and I’m not sure what proportion actually is, does “illegal” necessarily equal ‘criminal’?

    Would someone who overstays their visa or visit or even sneaks in be put in jail, or deported?

    Know what I mean? There are some actions that are against the law, and perhaps technically but not despicably ‘criminal’. (jaywalking, illegal parking, nominal speeding, etc) You violate them, and you pay a fine or get a warning.

    I don’t support violating any of those laws, but most people will stray outside the rules sometimes. Of course we should strive not to do that, and recognize we will have fine to pay or whatever else the law calls for if we do.

    On the continuum of horrible people, I would put them as less malicious than anyone who knowingly hires them and takes advantage of them (who is not even respecting their own country).

  72. trollkiller says:

    @girly: Here is the way I look at it. Criminal alien equals someone that knowingly, and willfully breaks the law. Illegal alien is someone that is technically here illegally but did not purposely break the law.

    Example: Goat herder crosses the border to retrieve a stray. Once he retrieves the stray he goes back to his own side. Or your Visa expires while you are waiting for immigration to finish your paperwork, they know where you are and you are in contact with them. Both of these would be illegal aliens.

    Example: You cross the boarder without authority and hightail it to Florida to pick tomatoes because it pays better than it would in Mexico. That would be a criminal alien as his intent was to break the law.

  73. trollkiller says:

    @girly: Oh sorry forgot the last part.

    A business that knowingly hires a criminal alien is also criminal because they willfully and purposefully broke the law. Those businesses should be fined and/or the people in authority that knew about the criminal alien should be jailed.

    Furthermore a business that preys on a criminal alien by not paying what was promised or maintains a deplorable work environment because the people working there can not go to the authorities, should be jailed.

    This is why we need a guest worker program. If, as claimed, Americans won’t work these jobs (bullshit), and we need outside help, those workers should be protected by the same labor laws as the rest of us.

  74. girly says:

    @trollkiller: Don’t you mean “Furthermore a *criminal* business that preys on a criminal alien by not paying what was promised or maintains a deplorable work environment because the people working there can not go to the authorities, should be jailed.” ?

    Even knowingly breaking the law, I don’t know if I would go so far as to say ‘criminal’ as it is not a typical crime.

    If I knew someone who went 10 over the speed limit every day I wouldn’t automatically call them a ‘criminal’. (bad judgment though, and they’d deserve every ticket they get)

  75. girly says:

    @trollkiller: I agree that it is less that American’s don’t want jobs than Americans want a fair wage.

  76. trollkiller says:

    @noasalira: Ok you got me, damn. Only 90% are not American. Of that 90% at least 70% are criminal aliens. (being generous with that 70%)

    I see you point on the “white girl goes missing” but in all fairness you should have compared it to “black girl goes missing” instead of “Asian kids dropped to their deaths”. The Asian kid’s story is over, they are dead, there is not much more to write until whack dad goes to trial. (BTW did they find the bodies yet? I have not heard.)

    I hope you had enough paper towels to clean up the spillage from your bleeding heart. Come on, tying Iraq into a discussion on tomatoes, please.

    It is not about paying an extra penny per pound, it is how the extra penny is being extorted from the fast food industry.

    This extra penny has NOTHING to do with the cost of harvesting the tomato. This extra penny is a payout so this group won’t picket your business. If the wages and working conditions are SO deplorable, DON’T work there.

    Business is an amazing thing, if people won’t do the job for the wages offered, wages will go up. Why do you think garbage men make so much? Because not many people would do that job for minimum wage.

  77. trollkiller says:

    @girly: Would you agree that breaking into a house is a crime? That is what these criminal aliens are doing, they are breaking into our country.

  78. girly says:

    @trollkiller: It’s probably more akin to squatting than B&E

  79. trollkiller says:

    If you enter a place for criminal gain, you break the law. BTW around here squatting is considered at the very least criminal trespassing.

  80. trollkiller says:

    Oh and don’t forget the other criminal activities these interlopers are involved with like identity fraud, forgery, perjury, tax evasion and the like. If a criminal alien gives an employer a bogus SS number then he has commited at least two out of the four crimes above.

  81. girly says:

    @trollkiller: Yup. That would be criminal.

    I’m not saying that squatting is not criminal.

    It’s just that some crimes define people and some do not.

    I could agree that illegally entering the country might, however the seemingly default association with criminal to alien is a bit much to me. You may not mean it that way, but that’s the impression I get.

  82. trollkiller says:

    I mean it exactly as you took it. I have know drug dealers that would kill you if you attempted to steal their product. These same drug dealers would give you the shirt off of their backs if you were in need. They were still criminals.

    People are complex bad people can do good things, good people can do bad things.

    The problem with criminal aliens is the penalty is low so we assume the crime is benign.

  83. girly says:

    @trollkiller: No, I’m talking about the fact that there are legal resident aliens not only ‘criminal aliens’.

    Being helpful but willing to murder someone does make someone a criminal in my book.

    Illegal aliens are criminals that pretty much require accomplices and those are usually citizens who either do know or should know.

    I’m not trying to diminish their crime (especially if it involves fraud) but there really would be little incentive if there weren’t people who counted on being able to pay unusually low wages to people desperate for a job or knowingly or even unknowingly (just having an employment environment conducive and not wanting to know).

  84. projektr says:

    Consumerist: Is there any way we can get some contact info for BK beyond their dumb consumer hotline? I’d love to be able to make my displeasure known.

  85. Sonnymooks says:

    @spinachdip:

    We’re assuming that price was the only factor, and that their is a significant difference of quality.

    However, as a consumer, if I feel like I got bad customer service and can find the same product for the same price (or cheaper) elsewhere, I would do it.

    These same folks actually had a protest rally outside of BK’s miami headquarters.

    Now, this may be a little crazy to say, but if someone I bought stuff from, held a rally outside of my office, and wanted to raise the price on me too, I’d dump their ass in less time then it takes to type this.

    Also Keep in mind that the CEO of BK has certain legal obligations to act in the best interests of the shareholders……which is what it looks like he is doing.

  86. trollkiller says:

    @girly: Whoops, sorry I misunderstood you.

    Legal aliens I have no problem with. In fact I like legal aliens because you can learn so much from them, culture, language, a different perspective on world events and most importantly… food. I love trying new foods.

  87. Hello_Newman says:

    They are bluffing, a 1 cent increase, compared to shipping them at todays gas prices from Mexico? Get real! They put the slices on too thick anyway, if they put a deli slicer in the stores and sliced them thinner, we could actually put the sandwich in our mouths and they could cut their food costs for it by half.

  88. trollkiller says:

    @Hello_Newman: Nah, it won’t cost them extra to import.