Read about the latest revision of EU marketing standards.

On September 21, 2022, the Expert Group for Agricultural Markets of the European Commission Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) discussed the revision of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 543/2011. This regulation lays down detailed rules for the application of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 in respect to the fruit, vegetables and processed fruit sectors. The INC has sent a position letter to the European Commission, as there is concern that such revision might impact the nut and dried fruit industry.

One of the points of discussion was the draft specific marketing standard applicable to nuts and dried fruit. Currently, under Regulation 543/2011, the following products are not required to conform to the general marketing standard:

  • bitter almonds of CN code 0802 11 10
  • shelled almonds of CN code 0802 12
  • shelled hazelnuts of CN code 0802 22
  • shelled walnuts of CN code 0802 32
  • pine nuts of CN code 0802 90 50
  • pistachios of CN code 0802 50 00
  • macadamia of CN code 0802 60 00
  • pecans of CN code ex 0802 90 20
  • other nuts of CN code 0802 90 85
  • mixtures of other nuts of CN code 0813 50 39

However, if the Commission is considering withdrawing this exemption and, additionally, setting out a specific marketing standard for nuts and dried fruits, the INC is concerned that such decision would result in an increase in official controls, delays and costly consequences, without achieving the intended purpose.

On September 30, the INC sent a position letter to DG AGRI and DG TRADE. Nuts and dried fruits are very different from each other, presenting different characteristics in size, color, ripeness, humidity, etc. For this reason, UNECE standards set unique specifications for every type of nut and dried fruit, and during the past 50 years, Member States including EU Members have worked continuously and profitably to achieve the existing standards.

A decision to set a specific marketing standard for nuts and dried fruits would mean an increase in the volume of inspections without offering any benefits to consumers, as food safety controls are already covered by health authorities and regulations, such as Regulation 1793/2019 on increased controls and emergency measures.

Sourcing of nuts and dried fruits is already done according to highly specified standards, set by and controlled by the importers, based on private standards and internationally recognized certifications, such as IFS, BRC and others. Additional border inspections would not add to quality control, as the standards set are already very high.

UNECE standards are the internationally recognized benchmarks for the standardization of nuts and dried fruits. They set internationally accepted minimum quality standards, establishing a common agreement between producing and consuming countries. Standards are regularly updated and revised, with the direct participation of EU Member States and international organizations, and in correspondence with new challenges and concerns that develop over time. In addition, the UNECE publishes explanatory brochures and posters for individual products that are illustrative of every single defect.

With this in mind, the INC has shared its position with the European Commission for consideration.

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