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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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False labelling of the country of origin of fruit and vegetables in Biedronka - the proceedings of the President of UOKiK

< previous | next > 28.05.2020

False labelling of the country of origin of fruit and vegetables in Biedronka - the proceedings of the President of UOKiK
  • Consumers have complained that the tags in Biedronka chain stores are misleading about the country of origin of fruit and vegetables.
  • Trade Inspection Authority Audits have confirmed irregularities in this respect.
  • President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny has initiated proceedings in which he accused the chain owner of practices infringing collective consumer interests.

Every consumer has the right to complete, clear and truthful information about the store's offer. For fruit and vegetables it includes, inter alia, an indication of the country where they have been grown. Only when provided with reliable data, the consumer can made an informed purchase decision. However, as evidenced by consumer complaints confirmed during the inspection of the Trade Inspection Authority, in the stores of the Biedronka chain, false information about the country of origin of vegetables and fruit appeared on the tags. President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection has therefore initiated proceedings against Jeronimo Martins Polska, the owner of this chain.

“I have charged Jeronimo Martins Polska with a practice infringing collective consumer interests by misleading them as to the country of origin of fruit and vegetables. For many people this is a crucial information that may have been decisive for the purchase of a given product. Increasingly often, consumers are driven by economic patriotism in their choices and are willing to choose Polish products. False information in Biedronka stores could have distorted their purchasing decisions,” stresses Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

If the allegation of misleading consumers as to the country of origin of fruit and vegetables is confirmed, Jeronimo Martins Polska may be fined up to 10% of its annual turnover. The President of UOKiK conducts also other proceedings against this operator, e.g. concerning misleading pricing information to consumers and unfair practices against food suppliers.

Trade Inspection Authority’s inspections

The scale of irregularities concerning the communication of false information on the country of origin of fruit and vegetables has been revealed by inspections conducted by the Trade Inspection Authority. The inspectors compared the data on store tags with the data on collective packaging, unit packaging and delivery documents. Special attention was paid to fruit and vegetables, which were declared as Polish. First of all, the inspectors focused on the ones most at risk of wrong country labelling, as they are grown both in Poland and in other countries, e.g. potatoes, apples, onions, cabbage, carrots.

In the 4Q 2019, in 49 Biedronka stores, inspectors discovered irregularities as regards misleading information about the country of origin of fruit and vegetables in connection with displaying false information on the tags. For this reason, they questioned 132 batches of fruit and vegetables out of the 644 batches checked, i.e. 20.4 %. For products declared and tagged as Polish, 64 batches (9.9%) were misleading.

By contrast, in Q1 2020, the Trade Inspection Authority found irregularities concerning the provision of misleading information on the country of origin of fruit and vegetables in 11 Biedronka stores despite the fact that inspections for correct labelling were suspended for the duration of restrictions on the operation of retail outlets during the coronavirus epidemic. The inspectors questioned 24 batches out of the 168 batches inspected in these locations (14.2%), of which for 19 batches (11.3%) the origin of fruit or vegetables was incorrectly declared as Polish. For example, the tag at the stand read "Poland", but in fact carrots came from Belgium and Holland (stores in the Silesian Province), greenhouse cucumbers were grown in Ukraine (store in the Lublin Province), Savoy cabbage came from France (store in the West Pomeranian Province).

Dear consumer, have you noticed incorrect labelling of the country of origin of vegetables or fruit in the shops of other retail chains? Inform the Trade Inspection Authority.

We are more willing to purchase Polish products

Consumer awareness of food has been increasing steadily. According to the Ipsos survey  “Moda na polskość” (Polishness is fashionable) conducted in 2016 73 percent of Poles try to support the Polish economy by purchasing products made in our country. At the same time, the country of origin is the key factor when choosing food - as much as 76% of the respondents declared that they would prefer to choose a Polish product over a foreign one

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
e-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsmen – in your town or district
Regional Consumer Centres: Phone: +48 22 299 60 90 – Dlakonsumenta.pl

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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