Monday

4th Mar 2024

Wonky fruit to return to EU shops

  • Strict rules on the shape or fruit and vegetables that can be sold in the EU were lifted on Wednesday (Photo: Fabrizio Federici)

Legislation restricting the sale of imperfectly shaped fruit and vegetables will be assigned to the compost heap of history on Wednesday (1 July) as repeals to controversial marketing standards that became synonymous with Brussels heavy-handedness come into effect.

"This marks a new dawn for the curvy cucumber and the knobbly carrot," said agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel in anticipation of the move.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"It's a concrete example of our drive to cut unnecessary red tape. We simply don't need to regulate this sort of thing at EU level. It is far better to leave it to market operators."

The new dawn for avant-garde avocados and knobbly sprouts comes after EU member states agreed last November on commission proposals to scrap strict shape requirements that restricted the sale of cucumbers which curved more than 1cm for every 10cm of length.

The rules will no longer apply to 26 agricultural products but will remain in place for ten others. Wonky variations of these ten can also be sold however, provided they are labelled to distinguish them from their more perfect ‘extra', ‘class I' and ‘class II' cousins.

The fully de-shackled 26 are: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocadoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons, and witloof/chicory.

The ten types that will require special labelling before they can be sold in their more twisted formats currently account for 75 percent of the value of EU trade in fruit and vegetables.

They are: apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes.

Prices to fall

The news has been well greeted by shops and consumers groups alike, who now hope the extra produce will enable sellers to lower their prices.

Up until Wednesday's repeal, roughly 20 percent of all fruit and vegetables had to be rejected by sellers on the grounds it did not meet EU requirements.

British supermarket Sainsbury's is among those who have lobbied the commission strenuously in recent years to scrap the marketing standards.

"By being able to sell more wonky fruit and veg, we can help cash-strapped Britons save even more on their weekly shop and help farmers use more of their crop," said one of the store's managers, Lucy Maclennan, reports the Daily Mail.

A number of shops have said they intend to sell the newly allowed wonky fruit at significantly lower prices.

EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

The European Commission will release €50m out of €82m in funds for the UN aid agency (UNRWA) operating in Gaza. The remaining €32m will come pending an audit. The commission has received no evidence to support Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact

The European Commission has played down a diplomatic row over its recent minerals agreement with Rwanda, after Congolese president Felix Tshishekedi, who accuses Rwanda of plundering his country's natural resources, described the deal as a "provocation in very bad taste".

Opinion

Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?

Europeans deserve a digital euro that transcends the narrow interests of the banking lobby and embodies the promise of a fairer and more competitive monetary and financial landscape.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Opinion

Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?

Europeans deserve a digital euro that transcends the narrow interests of the banking lobby and embodies the promise of a fairer and more competitive monetary and financial landscape.

Latest News

  1. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  2. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  3. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  4. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  5. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  6. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  7. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  8. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us