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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Agri-food market - actions of UOKiK and the Trade Inspection Authority

< previous | next > 20.02.2020

Agri-food market - actions of UOKiK and the Trade Inspection Authority
  • Coping with irregularities on the agri-food market is one of the UOKiK's priorities.
  • UOKiK's decisions help farmers get paid faster for their products.
  • The Trade Inspection Authority regularly examines the quality and labeling of vegetables and fruit in shops - in 2019, it carried out over 800 such inspections.

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection regularly monitors the agri-food market. Our activities include both coping with the unfair use of contractual advantage and inspecting shops.

“We receive signals from consumers, farmers and NGOs regarding irregularities on the agri-food market. We take them into account in our proceedings and when planning inspections. One should remember there are approx. 340,000 different shops in Poland, which is why NGOs can play an important, positive role. These organizations, by exercising additional consumer pressure on unfair undertakings, by highlighting irregularities, mobilise them to act responsibly. With a constructive attitude, they undoubtedly constitute an important complement to the national supervision system, as it is also the case in other EU countries,” says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

Vegetables and fruit examined in shops

According to preliminary data, in 2019 the Trade Inspection Authority carried out over 800 audits on the quality and labeling of vegetables (including potatoes) and fruit. This is about 10 percent of all audits in the food area. The audits took place in shops throughout Poland, also in the largest chains, such as Biedronka, Auchan, Carrefour, Lidl, and Kaufland.

Inspectors examined 5,500 batches of fruit and vegetables. They questioned almost 25 percent. The irregularities most often were about the absent or incorrect data on the country of origin - this was the case in some dozen percent of the products examined. The Trade Inspection Authority imposed over 260 fines with a total amount of approx. PLN 200,000. “The consumer must have reliable information on where the potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers or apples come from. On this basis, the consumer often decides whether to make a purchase at all. It is unacceptable that shops mislead consumers as to the country of origin of the products,” says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

The Trade Inspection Authority examines fresh vegetables and fruits only in shops. At earlier trade stages, including import, packaging plants, wholesalers, warehouses, and commodity exchanges, they are examined by the Agricultural and Food Quality Inspection, which in July 2020 will take over full responsibility for the food supervision to ensure control over the entire supply chain on the “from field to table” basis.

Contractual advantage

UOKiK also ensures that the largest processors and retail chains do not unfairly use their contractual advantage over farmers. In 2019, we issued 5 decisions towards the following companies: T.B. Fruit Polska, Rauch Polska, Döhler, Real and Südzucker Polska. In 40 other cases, we asked undertakings for explanations or demanded them to stop exploiting suppliers. As a result of such actions, farmers get money faster for delivered fruit and vegetables and large companies have to set clear payment rules. We strive to ensure that entities cease unfair market practices as soon as possible.

Currently, UOKiK is conducting 24 proceedings regarding contractual advantage. For example, it is analysing the Biedronka chain’s policy towards producers of agricultural and food products. Based on documents from last year's audit, we suspect that the owner of this chain demands discounts from its suppliers without offering any services in return. We are also verifying whether the Eurocash, Stokrotka, Carrefour and Auchan chains unfairly exploit their suppliers of products such as meat, fruit and vegetables. Our focus is on issues such as marketing fees, contractual penalties and the supplier's right to participate in the quality control of delivered goods.

Currently, UOKiK is also examining whether there are irregularities in the relations between farmers and processors. The conducted proceedings concern, for example, imposing penalties on producers of cereals, maize and rape affected by force majeure (e.g., drought), limiting the choice of sugar beet seeds and the principles for settlements in contract fattening.

Our priority is still to ensure that agricultural producers receive payment on time. At our request, companies buying fruit and vegetables paid almost PLN 2 million of overdue receivables and interest to agricultural producers in 2019. And the owner of processing plants that refused to cooperate with the Authority and subsequently delayed payments was charged with a fine of over PLN 8 million. In February 2020, we made allegations against another large fruit processor that delays payment for fruit. At the same time, we are verifying reported cases of delayed payments for other products, in particular cereals.

Examination of the fruit market

UOKiK also examines the fruit market. Last year, we analysed what determine the prices we pay in the shop. How much does the farmer, the intermediary, and the retail chain get. We are also examining the situation on the fruit purchase market; in particular, we analyse the purchase prices for industrial fruit, e.g., apples sold for juices. The analysis is already at its final stage.

Prices in Biedronka - proceedings

There are also ongoing proceedings on infringement of collective consumer interests, with allegations of incorrect price displaying in the Biedronka store chain. Consumers reported to us that either there was no price tag for a product at all, or the price displayed was different than in the checkout system. All the time, we are receiving new complaints, which are being analysed.

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

Attached files

 

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