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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Where do fruits and vegetables in our stores come from?

< previous | next > 07.10.2019

Where do fruits and vegetables in our stores come from?
  • “Polish” garlic from Egypt, onions coming from several countries at the same time?
  • These are vegetables we can buy in our stores.
  • The Trade Inspection has checked the labelling of fruit and vegetables in terms of the country of origin - UOKiK presents the results of its investigation carried out in 18 retail chains.

Fresh vegetables and fruit must be labelled with the country of origin. UOKiK has been informed about incorrect labelling of vegetables and fruit, which is why the Trade Inspection is conducting its investigation. One of the inspections took place in 96 stores belonging to 18 retail chains.

Information about the country of origin is important for many consumers as it often affects the purchase decision, therefore it should not be misleading. UOKiK has been informed about irregularities in this respect, which is why I ordered the Trade Inspection to carry out an investigation, says Marek Niechciał, President of UOKiK.

The irregularities occurred in 31 stores (32.3%) of the following retail chains: Aldi, Auchan, Biedronka, Dino, Hypermarket Bi1, Intermarché, Kaufland, Lewiatan, Lidl, Netto, Polo Market, Stokrotka and Tesco. 118 batches of fruit and vegetables (10.2%, while the investigation covered 1162 batches) were incorrectly marked with the country of origin.

61 products (5.2% of those inspected) were marked with a different country of origin compared to what the documents or multipacks say, including 31 ones incorrectly marked as products from Poland. For example, allegedly Polish celery was from the Netherlands, as said the package. A garlic name tag said it was from Poland, but according to the invoice it was from Egypt.

Furthermore, it was not rare for some product tags (46 batches) to give several names of countries of origin. For example, onion came simultaneously from Poland, France, the Netherlands and Slovakia, and the consumer did not know which country was right.

Nine batches had no information whatsoever about the country of origin.

Wrong or missing information about the country of origin misleads consumers. Poles pay more and more attention to this detail and try to choose Polish products. Sellers and suppliers more or less consciously use this fact, and label vegetables and fruits as Polish. We must fight such practices so that consumers always know what they buy and where the products come from. That is why investigations conducted by the Trade Inspection are very important, says Tomasz Chróstny, Vice President of UOKiK.

Inspections are being conducted in retail chains, and if there are grounds, there may be fines imposed by the Trade Inspection, even up to 20 times the national average earnings for the previous year (in 2018, according to the Central Statistical Office, it amounted to PLN 4,585).

You should know:

  • Pursuant to EU regulations, the following products should be marked with the country of origin: fresh fruit and vegetables, beef and veal, fish and seafood, honey, wine, olive oil, eggs, pre-packed pork, goat meat, mutton and poultry.
  • In Poland, it is also required to provide the country of origin for pork, goat meat, mutton or poultry sold by weight.
  • Potatoes, both sold by weight and packed, must hear information about the country of origin together with the country’s flag.
  • Marking products with the “Polish Product” information is voluntary. They may contain up to 25% of imported ingredients, if they do not come from Poland (e.g. raisins).
  • Food labelling is inspected by the Trade Inspection, where irregularities can be reported.

Support for consumers:

Tel. 801 440 220 or 22 290 89 16 - Consumer Helpline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer Ombudsmen - in your city or district
Regional Consumer Centres: 22 299 60 90 -
Financial Ombudsman - after rejection of a complaint by a financial institution

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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