The EU provides marketing standards for fresh produce, which also apply to imported products. Commission Regulation 543/2011 lays down detailed rules for the implementation of Article 113 of the Single Common Market Organization (CMO). This regulation sets out specific marketing standards for 10 product groups:
- citrus fruit
- kiwi fruit
- peaches and nectarines
- sweet peppers
- table grapes
Fruits and vegetables not covered by a specific marketing standard must comply with the general marketing standard. The details of the general marketing standard are set out in Part A of Annex I to Regulation 543/2011.
The following products are not required to conform to the general marketing standard: mushrooms (other than cultivated mushrooms), capers, bitter and shelled almonds, shelled hazelnuts, shelled walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamia, pecans and saffron. Products conforming to United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) standards are considered as conforming to the general marketing standard.
Fruit and vegetables destined for the processing industry are not required to conform to the marketing standards and must be clearly marked “intended for processing” or “for animal feed or other non-food use.”
Marketing standards apply at all marketing stages including import. For more information see the European Commission’s “Fruit and Vegetables Marketing Standards” webpage.
Fresh fruits are required to be checked for conformity with EU marketing standards for quality and labeling. A conformity certificate is required for all fresh produce shipments destined for the fresh market. Importers can obtain these certificates at the point of import.
Marketing standards also contains provisions for labeling of fresh produce. Labeling has to be in a language easily understood by consumers, as a general rule this is the official language of the Member State where the produce will be sold.
Each carton of produce must be marked with the following information:
- Identification: The name and the address of the packer and the dispatcher must be included on the label.
- Type of produce: The name of the produce must be included if the produce is not visible from the outside of the packaging. Including the name of the variety on the label is optional.
- Origin of produce: The country of origin is mandatory on the label. However, naming the local place, the district, or the region where product is grown is optional.
- Commercial specifications: The class and size, expressed by the minimum and maximum weight of the fruit, are required. Listing the number of fruits in the package is optional.
- Official control mark: An official control mark is optional.
Each package of mixes must adhere to the following criteria:
The marketing of packages of a net weight of 5 kg or less containing mixes of different species of fruit and vegetables shall be allowed, when:
- The products are of uniform quality and each product concerned complies with the relevant specific marketing standard or the general marketing standard;
- The package is appropriately labeled; and,
- The mix label does not mislead the consumer.
If the fruit and vegetables in a mix originate from more than one country, the full names of the countries of origin may be replaced with one of the following, as appropriate:
- ‘Mix of EU fruit and vegetables;’
- ‘Mix of non-EU fruit and vegetables;’
- ‘Mix of EU and non-EU fruit and vegetables.’
The EU also sets standards on packaging. The materials used inside the package must be clean and of a quality such as to avoid causing any external or internal damage to the produce. The use of materials, particularly of paper or stamps bearing trade specifications is allowed provided the printing or labeling has been done with non-toxic ink or glue. Stickers can be individually affixed on the produce but must neither leave visible traces of glue nor damage the produce when removed. Packages must be free of all foreign matter. In some cases, the EU will permit stem leaves to remain on the fruit.