Ruling of the Week 2015.11: German Pizza, Chicago Pride

This one is pretty straight forward. The only reason I am covering it is that the notion of importing completely prepared pizza from Germany is oddly funny to me. Kind of like getting tacos from Australia.

In N261593 (Mar. 11, 2015), U.S. Customs and Border Protection answered a ruling request from Freiberger U.S.A., Inc. asking for the tariff classification of a completely prepared and frozen pizza to be imported from Germany. Four varieties were involved including: flatbread with cream sauce and eleven-inch square.

The correct tariff classification is in Heading 1905 which is the heading for:

Bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits and other bakers' wares, whether or not containing cocoa; communion wafers, empty capsules of a kind suitable for pharmaceutical use, sealing wafers, rice paper and similar products . . . .

I come from Chicago where we like our pizza thick, the way God intended it. Consequently, it makes sense to me that pizza would be treated as a bread product. Specifically, Customs classified the pizza in 1905.90.90. This is the "other, other" provision in the heading. The statistical suffix at 1905.90.9060 specifically calls out "Pizza and quiche" (not that the statistical suffix means much legally). The applicable rate of duty is 4.5%

From The Pizza Fan (

This should not be (but probably is) true for the wood-fired, crispy-crust, hipster pizza you might find, say, in Brooklyn. It seems to me that would be, at best, a "crispbread" of 1905.10.0000. Just sayin', Brooklyn. I note there are no breakouts under crispbreads. I have, therefore, just legally proven that hipster pizza is, from a legal perspective, not pizza at all. You're welcome, Chicago.

Of course, the practical economic problem is that crispbreads are duty-free. We here in Chicago do not want Brooklyn to have an economic advantage in the imported pizza market. I think we need to petition the President (who is an adopted Chicagoan) to reduce the duty on imported pizza to Free to give Chicago parity with Brooklyn.

Here's another thing I am worried about: do they make a good pizza in Germany? Is this a product we really want in the U.S.? I realize that the tariff item covers more than just pizza. It also covers quiche, corn chips, and other savory snacks. But, for the entire category, Germany was the number seven source of these products. It fell just behind South Korea and just ahead of Israel, neither of which is a pizza dynamo. The number one source of pizza and similar products imported to the U.S. in 2014 was Mexico with the number two slot going to Canada. See, NAFTA works.

Italy, by the way, was number three.


Anonymous said…
I do miss Chicago-style pizza. When I lived in the Netherlands, I became a fan of Dr. Oetker. It sounds German, but I think it is British. Dr. Oetker keeps me going here, too, but sadly is not deep dish.

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