Last week new origin labels for fruits, vegetables and potatoes were introduced in France. It is in the line of the labels for meat and flowers and plants. The labels aren't really quality labels, but labels to promote the French origin of fruit and veg. The labels will be available at the end of this month. The origin must be indicated as large as the price at the point of sale.
According to Freddy Dutoit, director of VLAM in France, the French want to convince the consumer that the French product has been traced and is therefore of quality. "But we know that there is no link between origin and quality. Secondly, this is a completely unnecessary label for me, as the mention of the origin is legally required at the point of sale and so is already visible."
Threat to imported product?
He continues: "It is common knowledge that the French agriculture likes Europe for export but not for import. They feel threatened by the foreign supply and look for all possible ways to push the French product."
Is this a threat to exporters to France? "As far as vegetables are concerned, France isn't self sufficient in many products. The imported product will continue to have a place. However, the pressure in wholesale distribution will once again increase to buy French and exclusively promote this logo. The French production is now focussing on the pillars of catering and especially public catering such as ministries, schools and prisons. Here imported food seems to be the main origin. This is logical: the public sector has to find the supplier through procurement. Price is essential in this and so the imported product often comes out top. The French minister of agriculture has made a guide on how to circumvent this to give the local product right of way. But generally speaking this won't solve the problem: France will continue and perhaps import even more. Their own production continue to be under pressure."