President Iohannis passes law compelling supermarkets to sell 51pct food products of Romanian origin

Newsroom 11/07/2016 | 16:48

President Klaus Iohannis has passed the law compelling supermarkets to source 51pct of food products from Romanian market. The law also forbids supermarkets to impose a “shelf tax” on producers in order to sell their products.

President Klaus Iohannis has passed the law compelling supermarkets to source 51 percent of food products from the Romanian market. The law also forbids supermarkets to impose a “shelf tax” on producers in order to sell their products.

According to the provisions of the newly-promulgated law, all shops selling food products must source 51 percent of meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, honey, dairy and bread from the short supply chain, as defined by the law. The short food supply chain (SFSCs) concept refers to a production -distribution-consumption configuration where the distance between food producers and consumers is short or, similarly, by the existence of a small number of intermediaries between producers and consumers. Traders which record a net turnover or have assets valued at up to EUR 2 million in RON equivalent are exempt from the law. The law provides that the methodology of the supply chain actions is approved by government decision.

The law also includes provisions on meat packaging, such as the obligation to display in a visible way the label “Romanian meat,” if the meat in compliance with European regulations. Similarly, labels of meat products sold on the internal market will inform customers on the percentage of meat produced in Romania.

The law provides sanctions of RON 100,000 to 150,000, if the provisions of Law no. 21/1996 are not applicable. However, if the necessary 51 percent of the total food products cannot be supplied from the local market, it is possible to make up for the difference with other products, following consultations with entities on the market by order of the Minister of Agriculture and of Rural Development. Also, the provisions of the law do not apply to exotic fruit imported from abroad.

By virtue of the law, food sellers must organize events aimed at promoting and selling Romanian food products, in cooperation with the local councils.

The law forbids food sellers to impose taxes or to request services from food producers. Moreover, the law states that “it is forbidden to all sellers to ask distributors not to sell to other food sellers the same products at a price that is smaller or equal to that paid to purchase the products in question.

The law draws mixed reactions from industry players

Many voices in the industry have received the news with reservation. According to George Badescu, executive director of the Association of Large Commercial Networks (AMRCR), “the system in Romania is one that lacks an element – the producer cannot have a direct relation with a supermarket. That is why, perhaps there is a need for an intermediary to make this relation viable. It is not supermarkets that should make Romania’s agriculture policy,” Badescu added. Moreover, he believes the law will hinder the activity of supermarkets by excluding from the market producers who cannot comply with the provisions of the law.

On the other hand, the initiators of the law say it supports “Romanian, local producers’ access to the large retail chains, and consumers will benefit from fresh, quality products with a clear traceability.” The initiative belongs to Liberal MPs, Nini Sapunaru, George Scarlat, Costel Soptica, Stelian Dolha, Gheorghe Tinel, Dumitru Verginel Gireadă, Vasile Iliuta, Marin Anton and Cristian Chirtes.

Moreover, in a statement released after the promulgation of the law, they stated that “the PLN initiative comes to the support of both local producers and citizens. The importance of this draft law comes from the fact that Romanian producers will be able to sell a significantly bigger share of Romanian products and Romanian consumers will be access to fresh local products of superior quality.

Georgeta Gheorghe

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