Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural

Fruit and vegetables: Marketing standards

Fruit and vegetables: Marketing standards

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Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables: Marketing standards

The scheme promotes product quality by applying marketing standards to certain products.


Countries whose Checks on Conformity have been approved under Article 15 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 543/2011 (contact details of Official Authorities and Inspection Bodies / Models for Certificates) - go to page 19

New rules apply from 1 July 2009 (EU Regulation 1221/2008 as modified by EU Regulation 543/2011). 

Main changes:

  • definition of "sound, fair and of marketable quality" (general marketing standard for fresh produce)
  • fewer specific marketing standards (10 instead of 36)
  • simplified and rationalised checking operations


General marketing standards

The general marketing standard (GMS) covers all produce covered by the regime, except:

The general marketing standard introduces a definition of "sound, fair and of marketable quality" for these products and requires them to bear the full name of their country of origin.

Fruit and vegetables not covered by a specific standard must meet the general standard – or the applicable UNECE standard  (sometimes less strict than the EU standard). Operators are free to choose which.


Specific marketing standards

The number of specific standards has been reduced from 36 to the following 10 products:

  • apples
  • citrus fruit
  • kiwifruit
  • lettuces, curled-leaved and broad-leaved endives
  • peaches and nectarines
  • pears
  • strawberries
  • sweet peppers
  • table grapes
  • tomatoes

Products no longer covered by specific standards

Apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbages, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, watermelons and chicory.

Products exempted from specific standards

National authorities can exempt products (e.g. misshapen, under-sized) from specific marketing standards if they are labelled "products intended for processing" or "for animal feed" or any other equivalent wording. 


Compliance checks

The new regulation simplifies and rationalises checking operations, reducing the administrative burden for inspection and customs services and facilitating the work of approved exporters and importers.

Every EU country is required to set up a database of traders  that market fresh fruit and vegetables covered by marketing standards.

The national authorities must also ensure that checks are carried out selectively, based on risk analysis and with appropriate frequency, to ensure compliance with the standards and other statutory requirements for marketing fruit and vegetables.

The risk analysis must be based on the information in the trader database. National authorities must lay down in advance which criteria they will use to determine the risk of non-compliance for a batch of produce.

Where checks reveal significant irregularities, the authorities must check more frequently.

Traders must give inspection bodies all the information they need to organise and carry out compliance checks.

Based on a product-by-product risk assessment, the authorities may choose not to selectively check products not covered by a specific marketing standard (i.e. are covered by the general standard or a UNECE standard).


Approved non-EU countries

Any country exporting to the EU that has performed its own compliance checks may ask the Commission to judge whether those checks meet the specific EU marketing standards, or at least equivalent standards.

If they do, that country may be granted "approved" status for products originating on its territory that have passed these checks.

The Commission may suspend approval if it finds that, in a significant number of batches/quantities, the goods don't correspond to the information in the conformity certificates issued by the non-EU inspection body.

For more details, see article 15 of EU Regulation 543/2011.


Updated marketing standards

UNECE has developed over 50 specific marketing standards for fresh fruit and vegetables (including the 10 types covered by the specific EU marketing standards).

Specific EU marketing standards for individual products must be in line with the relevant UNECE standards, and are updated regularly to this effect.

UNECE updates its standards every November.

Last update - EU Regulation 543/2011  (June 2011).


Products exempted from the general marketing standard

  • non-cultivated mushrooms of CN code 0709 59
  • capers of CN code 07099040
  • bitter almonds of CN code 08021110
  • shelled almonds of CN code 080212
  • shelled hazelnuts of CN code 080222
  • shelled walnuts of CN code 080232
  • pine nuts of CN code 08029050
  • pistachios of CN code 08025000
  • macadamia of CN code 08026000
  • pecans of CN code ex08029020
  • other nuts of CN code 08029085
  • dried plantains of CN code 08030090
  • dried citrus of CN code 0805
  • mixtures of tropical nuts of CN code 08135031
  • mixtures of other nuts of CN code 08135039
  • saffron of CN code 091020


What is a fruit and vegetable "trader"? 

Any individual or body who displays, offers for sale, sells or markets (including distance selling, online or otherwise) produce in any way – either within the EU, for export outside the EU or for import into the EU. (for full legal definition, see EU Regulation 543/2011)


More information

Study on "Marketing standards in the fruit and vegetable sector"