Portuguese supermarket chain in Poland heavily fined for misleading customers about product sourcing

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The Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has given the owner of the Biedronka supermarket chain, Jeronimo Martins  a €13.2 million fine due to misleading customers concerning the source countries of its fruit and vegetables.

The lawsuit against the chain’s Portuguese owner was initiated by the head of the UOKiK.

Inspectors checked 263 Biedronka stores across the country, and in 73 of them (27.8 percent), they found that fruit and vegetables were improperly labeled regarding their origins. Moreover, in some cases, the improprieties reached over 20 percent of the products that were checked.

The UOKiK explained that customers were being misled, for example, by there being a “Poland” label near a stand in a Biedronka in Łódź, despite the garlic being sold from the stand having come from Spain. Other examples from different stores throughout Poland include French potatoes, savoy cabbage and shallots being sold under a Polish label, as well as Dutch pears and celery.

“Due to misleading consumers concerning the origin of vegetables and fruit sold in Biedronka supermarkets, the head of the UOKiK has imposed a fine of over €13.2 million on Jeronimo Martins,” the statement reads, with the caveat that this decision is not yet legally binding and can be appealed

The Polish branch of Martins company stated that it will appeal to the fine in court and believed that it is “disproportionate and discriminatory”.

Biedronka’s owner also stated that “evidence in this case had been collected subjectively and its quality and completeness cause serious objections.”

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