A wholesaler suspected of having “francized” hundreds of tons of Spanish vegetables

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An investigation carried out in the Bouches-du-Rhône revealed the practices of a fruit and vegetable wholesaler who passed off hundreds of tonnes of Spanish products for French fruits and vegetables.

A fruit and vegetable wholesaler is at the heart of a vast investigation carried out under the authority of the Tarascon prosecutor’s office, suspected of having passed off as French products hundreds of tonnes of Spanish vegetables, the Bouches prefecture announced on Monday. -du-Rhône.

Several searches and police custody were carried out in this file prepared for several months, involving the departmental directorate of the protection of the populations of Bouches-du-Rhône, the gendarmerie of Arles and the General Directorate of Competition, Consumption and of the repression of fraud (DGCCRF). And which resulted in mid-June in a control operation, said the prefecture in a press release. “The investigations are still ongoing”, simply confirmed the prosecutor of Tarascon Laurent Gumbau.

“In the field of fruits and vegetables, the so-called francization fraud consists for a company in buying products abroad, often at low prices, and reselling them claiming that they come from French production”, a detailed the prefecture. “In this case, the fruit and vegetable wholesaler is suspected of having bought in 2020 and 2021 several hundred tonnes of vegetables (zucchini, peppers, squash, asparagus …) and of having disguised their origin. vegetables indicating Spain would have been removed from the packages and packaging and replaced by labels indicating an origin France, “added the prefecture.

Fruits and vegetables sold in supermarket

Invoices on which was written “origin: France” were also published by the wholesaler, always according to the prefecture: “therefore impossible for its customers, and the final consumer, to realize that it was, in fact , Spanish vegetables “. The investigation made it possible to determine that the customers concerned would mainly be supermarket chains.

“This wholesaler could also have acted with the complicity of a fruit and vegetable conditioner responsible for repackaging certain vegetables in net and labeling the origin in France”, continued the prefecture. “The interest in fraud lies in the differences in price and seasonality of fruits and vegetables between producing countries. For example, last June, the Spanish pepper was trading on the wholesale market at around 2 euros / kg then that the French pepper, the harvest of which has barely begun, can be bought at nearly 3 euros / kg “, she also explained.

2 years in prison and a fine of € 300,000

When established, this practice constitutes a misleading commercial practice offense punishable by imprisonment for two years and a fine of 300,000 euros.

In terms of francization, the 2020 activity report of the DGCCRF reports 392 establishments inspected, for an “overall rate of anomalies” of 25%. 23 establishments have been or will be the subject of criminal reports, according to the prefecture. “The French are attached to the consumption of the production of our farmers. The traceability of food products is very important for our fellow citizens”, commented the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire in a press release welcoming the action of the DGCCRF.

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