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Patriotic consumers in Poland were duped by store into buying Ukrainian cucumbers, Belgian carrots as home-grown, watchdog finds

Patriotic consumers in Poland were duped by store into buying Ukrainian cucumbers, Belgian carrots as home-grown, watchdog finds
A Polish supermarket chain has been caught mislabeling imported produce as home-grown, that country’s consumer watchdog has revealed. The violation might result in a fine of up to 10 percent of the company’s annual turnover.

Poland’s patriotic drive to support indigenous producers has been put in great jeopardy by the Biedronka chain, a statement released on Monday by the UOKiK anti-monopoly watchdog suggests. As a vast majority of Poles is striving to buy locally-produced items, the retailer has apparently been simply mislabeling imported goods as home-grown ones.

“Consumers are increasingly guided by economic patriotism in their choices and are happy to reach for domestic products,” the head of the watchdog agency Tomasz Chrostny said. “False information in Biedronka stores may have distorted their purchasing decisions.”

Thus, “locally produced” cucumbers turned out to be Ukrainian, ‘local’ carrots came from Belgium and the Netherlands, and Italian cabbage sneaked onto the plates of unsuspecting Poles, all the way from France.

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The scale of mislabeling by the chain appears to be very large – in the fourth quarter of 2019, nearly 10 percent of 644 fruit and vegetable batches that were audited turned out to be falsely labeled as Polish. In the first quarter of this year, the situation turned out to be even worse, with 11 percent of audited groceries turning out to be imported.

Such findings, as well as multiple complaints from consumers, have triggered a probe into the chain’s misleading practices.If the watchdog’s charges are confirmed, the company may face a large fine, amounting to up to 10 percent of its annual turnover. Biedronka, the largest supermarket chain in Poland, is a part of Portuguese retail group Jeronimo Martins.

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