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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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UOKiK for agriculture - inspections at purchasing centres

< previous | next > 31.08.2018

UOKiK for agriculture - inspections at purchasing centres
  • The Trade Inspection Authority verified whether prices of soft fruits at purchasing centres were set in accordance with the law.
  • This is another stage of UOKiK’s activities for the benefit of Polish farmers.

UOKiK continues to monitor the agricultural and food market. The aim of these activities is to improve the situation of farmers. Last week, we informed about instigation of proceedings against Döhler. We also brought charges against another large processor – T.B. Fruit. Together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, we proposed changes in the regulations, which have been accepted by the Council of Ministers. Furthermore, from June onwards the Authority controlled processors of fruits together with the Trade Inspection Authority. Acting within its competences, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also carried out inspections together with its subordinate entities. The Authority examined whether the undertakings could use their contractual advantage against farmers when setting the fruit purchase prices.

The most recent activities concern inspections carried out by the Trade Inspection Authority at purchasing centres for soft fruits. The inspectors verified 29 centres in provinces with the largest share in cultivation which house registered offices of large processors, namely the following provinces: Lubelskie, Mazowieckie, Łódzkie and Świętokrzyskie. The inspections were carried out by the Provincial Trade Inspection offices in: Kielce, Lublin, Łódź and Warsaw.

The inspectors checked, among others, the contracts concluded by purchasing centres both with farmers and with facilities which refrigerate and process fruits. Among other things, they examined the commercial relationships between the entities.

The aim of the inspection was to verify whether prices of soft fruits at purchasing centres were set in accordance with the law, and in particular whether contractual advantage of large facilities might have been used against farmers in relationships between farmers, purchasing centres and processing and refrigerating entities. We are currently analysing the information and data we have collected,” says Marek Niechciał, President of UOKiK.

At the same time, I would like to stress that UOKiK is not an authority responsible for controlling prices. Unfair use of contractual advantage is one of the three instances in which we can intervene as regards the manner in which they are set. The other cases are unlawful agreements, e.g. price fixing or bid rigging, and abuse of a dominant position by market leaders,” adds President of UOKiK.

When summarising the course of the inspection, it is worth noting the positive attitude and full co-operation of the audited owners of purchasing centres with inspectors of the Trade Inspection Authority. Undertakings were happy that we had taken measures in order to determine the reasons for this difficult price situation on the soft fruit market,” says Kazimierz Mareczka, Provincial Inspector of the Trade Inspection Authority in Lublin.

We tried to apply an individual approach to each of the audited entities so as to minimise disruption of the centres’ operation. For this reason, we inspected many of the documents at our office so as to spend as little time at the undertakings as possible,” says Paweł Faryna, Provincial Inspector of the Trade Inspection Authority in Kielce.

What surprised us in the analysed contracts was the lack of the price for which fruits would be accepted by the purchasing centre. Such information was only included in annexes. In practice, this means that the farmer calls the purchasing centre in the morning and only then finds out what price they will receive for their product,” says Krzysztof Stasiak, Provincial Inspector of the Trade Inspection Authority in Łódź.

We also noticed that undertakings operating purchasing centres for soft fruits do not conclude long-term contracts with farmers (suppliers), e.g. for the harvesting period, but only contracts for one-off supply. As such, there is no guarantee for suppliers that they will be able to sell the fruits they have produced,” says Joanna Jankowska-Kuć, Provincial Inspector of the Trade Inspection Authority in Warsaw.

The materials and documents collected by the branches of the Trade Inspection Authority are currently being analysed by UOKiK.

This is not the end of the Authority’s actions for the benefit of Polish farmers. The Trade Inspection Authority has also begun inspections of purchasing centres for apples; a total number of 40 centres will be inspected. Moreover, the Trade Inspection Authority is also examining the pigmeat market.

Furthermore, the prices of fruits in retail shops are still being monitored. Every week the Trade Inspection Authority examines nearly 500 facilities across Poland. Information on the results of these inspections and the prices paid by consumers in each region of Poland will be published on an ongoing basis at http://przewagakontraktowa.uokik.gov.pl/.

 

All cases involving contractual advantage are handled 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 Warszawa
Phone: +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 430
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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