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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Where do cucumbers and strawberries sold in supermarkets come from?

< previous | next > 02.07.2020

Where do cucumbers and strawberries sold in supermarkets come from?
  • Every tenth batch of vegetables and fruit in the stores examined by the Trade Inspection Authority had incorrect or no information about the country of origin.
  • The highest percentage of such irregularities was disclosed in Delikatesy Centrum, E.Leclerc, Intermarche, Lewiatan and Lidl supermarkets, as well as in the non-chain stores.
  • Starting from yesterday, food inspections in stores were taken over by the Agricultural and Food Quality Inspection.

In the first half of 2020 the Trade Inspection Authority, acting upon the order of President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny, inspected the labelling of 3527 batches of vegetables and fruit in 395 stores, mainly owned by large retail chains. Following complaints from consumers and farmers, it checked whether sellers have provided correct information on the country of origin. The investigation mainly focused on products where there is the greatest risk of misleading the consumers, i.e. potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, garlic, strawberries and apples.

“Before purchasing a product, consumers have the right to be fully, clearly and reliably informed about the offer, including the country of origin of fruit or vegetables. I expect large, professional economic operators, such as retail chains, to display particular diligence while caring for customers. This includes providing correct information about the products they offer Misleading consumers is absolutely unacceptable,” says Tomasz Chróstny, President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

In total, in the first half of 2020, inspectors questioned 358 batches (10.2%) due to incorrect or no indication of the country of origin. The inspections were carried out in three stages. In the last one, which took place from 15th April to 19th June, 154 stores were inspected, including 119 belonging to retail chains inspected in previous stages: Aldi, Auchan, Biedronka, Carrefour, Delikatesy Centrum, Dino, E. Leclerc, Intermarche, Kaufland, Lidl, Mila, Netto, Polomarket, Stokrotka, Tesco. Irregularities were found in 33.8% of them, inter alia, in Groszek, Lewiatan, Lidl, Delikatesy Centrum, Kaufland, Dino, Tesco, Intermarche, Polomarket, Netto, Biedronka and non-chain stores.

During the inspections lasting from 15th April to 19th June, 956 batches of fresh fruit and vegetables were checked,  and 115 of them (12%) were questioned due to incorrect or missing information on the country of origin. For example, iceberg lettuce from Spain, cherry tomatoes from Morocco or onions from the Netherlands were tagged as Polish on the stands. It also happened that several countries of origin were indicated at the same time, one of which was to be Poland, e.g. in the case of Conference peas from the Netherlands.

In the entire half-year period the biggest number of irregularities in country-of-origin labelling were found in the following supermarkets: Delikatesy Centrum (25.2 percent), E.Leclerc (17.3 percent), Intermarche (15.9 percent), Lewiatan (14.6 percent), Lidl (9.6 percent), Dino (9.1 percent) and Kaufland (8.3 percent). The inspectors also raised a number of objections to individual inspected stores belonging to the chains: ABC (100 % of the contested batches), Groszek (47.7 percent) and Piotr i Paweł (25 percent). Irregularities were also reported in the non-chain stores (36.2 percent of batches inspected there). For detailed findings, please refer to the Trade Inspection Authority information.

“The results of the inspection will be analysed for any infringement of the collective consumer interests. If there are grounds for filing charges, I will initiate proceedings against those companies that mislead consumers and infringe the collective consumer interests,” announces Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

First such proceedings against Jeronimo Martins Polska, owner of Biedronka chain stores, has already been pending. For practices infringing the collective consumer interest, the entrepreneur may be fined up to 10% of its annual turnover.

As of 1st July, food quality inspections in stores, including labelling of fruit and vegetables, are taken over by the Agricultural and Food Quality Inspection that reports to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Hints and advices for consumers

  • Each batch of vegetables or fruit must be tagged with the country of origin. The information shall be legible, explicit and displayed in a visible place. It must not be misleading.
  • In addition, the potatoes, whether offered loose or packed, must be labelled with the flag of the country of origin.
  • When in doubt, please compare the information on the tag with that on the packaging, such as the box.
  • The packaging of vegetables or fruit may also bear the logo “Produkt Polski” (Product of Poland). This labelling is voluntary, but must not be misleading.
  • As of 1st July, any irregularities concerning information on the country of origin of agricultural and food products must be reported to the competent Provincial Agricultural and Food Quality Inspectorate.

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: 22 299 60 90 – Dlakonsumenta.pl
Information Desk for Energy and Gaseous Fuel Consumers: 22 244 26 36, e-mail: [SCODE]ZHJyQHVyZS5nb3YucGw=[ECODE]

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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