Tomato fight to be held in Amsterdam to protest Russia's ban on Dutch produce

A couple kisses during the annual "tomatina" festivities in the village of Bunol, near Valencia on Aug 28, 2013. Two thousand tomato-wielding protesters are to stage a massive food fight in Amsterdam to protest Russia's ban on the import of Dutc
A couple kisses during the annual "tomatina" festivities in the village of Bunol, near Valencia on Aug 28, 2013. Two thousand tomato-wielding protesters are to stage a massive food fight in Amsterdam to protest Russia's ban on the import of Dutch produce, organisers said on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

AMSTERDAM (AFP) - Two thousand tomato-wielding protesters are to stage a massive food fight in Amsterdam to protest Russia's ban on the import of Dutch produce, organisers said on Wednesday.

"We want to support duped Dutch farmers hit by the Russian ban by buying their tomatoes for a good price and staging a fight on Sept 14," Joep Verbunt told AFP. "We expect to have about 10 tonnes of tomatoes, around 120,000, available on the day in an event similar to the one in Bunol."

The small eastern Spanish town of Bunol hosts the world-famous Tomatina festival every year, with half-naked revellers pelting each other with squishy tomatoes.

Amsterdam's tomato-tossers will pay 15 euros (S$24.70) for the hour-long fight on the city's famed central Dam Square. The money is to pay for the tomatoes and for the subsequent cleanup, organisers said.

Moscow last month announced the counter-measure in retaliation for United States and European sanctions over Russia's alleged role in separatist violence in eastern Ukraine.

Set to last for a year, the Russian ban covers the import of meats, fruits and vegetables, fish and diary products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.

The tomatoes to be used in Saturday's fight have been declared unfit for human consumption and will be bought at pre-boycott market prices.

Afterwards, the remains will be picked up and sent to a biogas plant, organisers said.

"Whatever is left after that will be used for organic compost," they added.

City spokesman Jasper Karmans told AFP that permission for the tomato fight had been granted.

"The organisers promised to clean up afterwards," he added.

Last week, the Dutch government donated four tonnes of fresh tomatoes to a food bank in the eastern city of Arnhem, bought from local farmers affected by the Russian boycott.