Shopping test shows large regional shares, but labeling is misleading

Seasonal vegetables on the Saxon supermarket shelves are mostly from the region

Even discounters are offering regional fruits and vegetables, according to a recent shopping test. But the labeling is confusing. Pensioner Hans-Wolfgang Mögel often buys his greens at the weekly market. The Dresdner prefers regional products. But will the markets live up to their reputation? And to what extent can customers recognize regional vegetables and fruits in supermarkets and discounters? Mögel tested this, together with Birgit Brendel from the consumer center of Saxony.

The weekly market
In wooden boxes and on tables are pumpkins, onions and carrots from growers in the area. Handwritten notes indicate that the last cucumbers are from Dresden-Omsewitz and the radishes grew in Radebeul soil. "These details are not really required," says Brendel. Food legislature only obliges producers or traders of fresh fruits and vegetables to name the country of origin. Anything beyond that is voluntary.

But how reliable are these then? Checking this is the responsibility of the State Investigation Institute of Saxony. As a rule, food supervisors are on the weekly markets once or twice a year. They check whether regionally labeled products actually do come from the origins that are indicated, checking delivery notes and invoices, says Jörg Förster from the Ministry of Consumer Protection of Saxony. "Samples are taken when there is any suspicion," he says.

Supermarkets and discounters
Most supermarkets and discounters also sell regional fruits and vegetables in their assortment. That has its advantages. The logistical track is short, the goods remain fresh, customers identify with the products from their region and are satisfied if their market sells them. And customers that are satisfied, will return. "Whenever possible, we source our fruit and vegetables from local production," says Aldi Nord spokeswoman Verena Lissek. The Group is increasingly labeling pre-packaged goods across Germany.

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