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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Soft Fruit - further actions of UOKiK

< previous | next > 06.08.2018

Soft Fruit - further actions of UOKiK
  • Consumers from Podkarpacie paid PLN 10.50 per kilogramme of raspberries, while at the same time in Zachodniopomorskie, it cost three times as much.
  • These are the first results of price analyses carried out on the fruit and vegetable market by the TIA and UOKiK.
  • Moreover, the Authority charged a fruit processing company on suspicion of using contractual advantage against orchardists.

The Authority is constantly monitoring the agri-food market. The activities are being carried out at several levels. “We have recently informed about an inspection of processors, in which we were checking if contractual advantage was being used against smaller fruit suppliers. At the moment, we are conducting several activities aimed at making it easier for farmers to operate,” explains Marek Niechciał, the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

Contractual advantage - further proceedings

This week, the Authority initiated proceedings against T.B. Fruit Polska. It is one of the largest companies that purchase fruit and produce apple concentrate in Poland. Last year, the company achieved a turnover of over one hundred million zloty. It also processes cherries, raspberries, chokeberries, strawberries, and blackcurrants. The Authority suspects that the entrepreneur uses contractual advantage against its suppliers. "According to our information, T.B. Fruit does not meet its payment deadlines. Although, in their contracts, it undertakes to make payments within 30 days, in reality, the farmers receive the money much later. There is a delay of even up to 200 days,” says the President of UOKiK, Marek Niechciał. According to evidence gathered so far, the company extends payment deadlines in the case of many of its suppliers, which confirms the Authority's allegations that this is a common practice. For farmers, this can mean a loss of financial liquidity and serious financial problems, for the company – it is a free form of credit for conducting their activities. The President of UOKiK suspects a serious violation of fruit suppliers' interests. The penalty for an abuse of contractual advantage may amount to 3% of the entrepreneur's turnover.

Prices survey in the supply chain

UOKiK is examining the relationship between collection centres, farmers and the largest entities on the fruit processing market. It is checking whether the prices and terms offered by collection centres result from the processors' trade policies or from the market situation, cooperation with the same recipients, and parallel pricing.

“With the help of the Trade Inspection Authority, we are examining the relation between low rates in collection centres and the high final price paid by the consumer in stores or bazaars. We want to determine the sales stage at which the price is raised,” says the President of UOKiK, Marek Niechciał.

Moreover, we already have the first results of the fruit prices survey that was carried out in stores. From 18 to 30 July, the Trade Inspection Authority examined nearly 1,600 sites, checking fruit prices. These were: raspberries, red and black currants, apples, and blueberries. The data indicate that the average cherry prices were the highest in Pomorskie Voivodship – PLN 6.44 (the highest price being PLN 9.09), and the lowest in Lubelskie Voivodship – PLN 3.80 (the lowest price in the voivodship was PLN 3.11). Apple prices remained at an average level fluctuating between PLN 3.68 and 3.87 per kilogramme in Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Mazowieckie, Łódzkie, and Wielkopolskie. The highest prices of apples were found in Pomorskie and Opolskie – the average price per kilogramme was PLN 4.61. According to UOKiK's analyses, the western part of the country has the highest fruit prices, and the lowest prices are in the east.

Forecast-based analyses

UOKiK analysed available data and prepared maps and compilations of manufacturers, collection centres, and key processors operating on the agricultural market. The analyses indicate that apple production will be one of this year’s sensitive markets. The period between August and November is characterised by increased purchases. A preliminary yield forecast assumes that this year's harvest will be much higher than the previous one's. In the years 2011-2016, fruit production in Poland increased by 36 per cent – up to 4.6 million tonnes, mainly due to an increase in apple production. One of the characteristic features of the market is its breakdown by production allocation: into gourmet apples – intended for direct consumption and industrial apples, which take up approximately 60 per cent of the yield volume. UOKiK will continue to inspect entrepreneurs operating in particular links of the supply chain and analyse cultivation contracts. It will also examine the functioning of the market with regard to possible violations of the act on contractual advantage, e.g. in terms of delays in settling obligations. In case of irregularities, the Authority will initiate relevant proceedings.

Fruit labelling and quality control

Changes in prices and quality on food products markets are most strongly felt by the consumers. For the past half a year, the Trade Inspection Authority has been checking the quality and labelling of potatoes, tomatoes, Chinese and white cabbage. The inspectors examined nearly 1,400 batches of vegetables. They focused on whether manufacturers and traders provided appropriate information about their country of origin. Such labelling is mandatory in the case of tomatoes and cabbage, and voluntary in the case of potatoes. If there are labels, however, they cannot be misleading. Good news is that inspectors did not raise major concerns with regard to labelling of vegetables from "Poland". Their quality did not raise any doubts either. Traders and manufacturer did not mislead. There were only individual irregularities, e.g. a tomato label in a supermarket said that the vegetables came from several countries at once. In one of the stores, the tomatoes were supposed to be from the Netherlands, when in fact, they came from Poland. One other example of irregularities concerned potatoes which were offered as Spanish potatoes, however, the packaging showed that they were from Greece.

Convenient solutions for farmers

UOKiK prepared legal changes that will facilitate detecting abuses of contractual advantage with respect to small farmers. The Council of Ministers adopted the amendment on Tuesday, 31 July. Among others, the amendment abolished turnover thresholds that hindered the Authority's intervention.

It is worth remembering that every farmer can inform UOKiK about any irregularities. You only need to contact the Authority. The notifier will remain anonymous.

All cases involving contractual advantage are examined by the UOKiK Branch Office in Bydgoszcz. As a farmer, you can report abuse of rights:

 

Additional information for the media:
UOKiK Press Office
pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warsaw
Phone: 695 902 088

E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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