Interview Irma van der Kaay

Wrong labelling?
Higher costs!

How hard can it be to label produce right? Well, this might be harder than you think! LBP receives wrong labelled shipments on a weekly basis. Consequences? More work, higher costs. Irma van der Kaay is familiar with the rules and emphasizes wrong labelling is easy to avoid…

Tekst: Anton Filippo | Beeld: Maaike Petri Fotografie

Why and since when is the EU so strict on these ascriptions?

Irma: “The rules have always been there but since some important changes in the control have taken place, the inspections have become more strict and sharpened. Things that no one ever looked at are now followed and checked by the books.”

What does every exporter need to do when exporting fruit to Europe?

Irma: “There is not one general rule, things depend on products. But the basic rule for everyone is that the following needs to be on all packing: name and full address of the shipper, product, weight, country of origin (in full). Per product there could be additional topics. I am putting a full list together; if people are interested they can always call me.”

What are the implications for shippers if they do not adhere to the rules?

Irma: “The first and most important is that when the information is insufficient or incomplete, the shipment will be blocked. We need to make it right by putting new labels on the box or punnet, or sticking additional labels with missing information. This all costs a lot of money and will delay the arrival of the product to the final receivers.”

How often does it happen that shippings arrives with insufficient labelling?

Irma: “It happens quite a lot, very regularly, I can say almost every week we have someone with a shipment that does not comply with the regulations. A waste of money and lots of grieve from the clients.”

What does this mean for LBP, what can they do about it?

Irma: “First and foremost it means more work for us, not the work that we are all waiting for. Although it also obstructs our normal logistic process, it needs to be done so we will do it.

Is it true that all the details need to be on the punnet labels, but that it is still possible to ship punnets unlabelled without any consequence?

Irma: “This is true. Having said that, if you put a label on the punnet with incomplete data, the shipment will be stopped by the authorities and that can even be if one of the things I mentioned earlier is not there. It might sound patethic, but this is the usual practice. We know that and everyone knows that, so we should all follow those rules to avoid unnecessary high costs.”

And last but not least; have you any words of advice left?

Irma: “My advice would be that every exporter puts all the information on the packaging as required and to ask me if there is any doubt. Make sure you have all that is needed.”

European law and regulations are getting stricter for different aspects of the chain. The phyto sanitary government inspectors - that check the arrivals of fresh produce both on phyto- and quality aspects - have clear instructions to control all arriving produce on ascription on the packing.

In other words, every packing unit that is labelled needs to have full name, address, country on it, as well as produce and (in full) country of origin on it. For example: blueberries from Chile. This has to be mentioned on the box or punnet.

On the shipping label name and full address of the shipper, product, weight, country of origin (in full) needs to be mentioned. Per product there could be additional topics.