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Marketing Standards Fresh Fruit and Vegetables


In recent years there has become an increased awareness of the need for the consumer to have fruit and vegetables available to eat which has reached a satisfactory state of ripeness and which exhibits the true characteristics of the produce and of the variety concerned. There has also an increased awareness of the need for the consumer to have high quality products.

In​ the framework of the OECD Scheme on Fruit and Vegetables, internal quality of fruit and vegetables is defined as: "The degree, measured with objective criteria, to which a commodity has reached a sufficient stage of development such as to enable its quality, after harvesting and post harvest handling (including ripening, where required) to be at least the minimum acceptable to the final consumer".

There are two types of Marketing Standards that include Fruit and Vegetable. These are:

"General marketing standards" means those standards listed in Part A of Annex I to EC Regulation No. 543/2011;

"Specific marketing standards" means those standards listed in Part B of Annex I to EC Regulation No. 543/2011;

General marketing standards for Fruit and Vegetables:

The general marketing standard (GMS) covers all produce covered by the regime, except:

10 products covered by specific marketing standards (listed below)

16 products exempted from the GMS

The general marketing standard introduces a definition of "sound, fair and of marketable quality" for these products and requires them to bear the full name of their country of origin.

Fruit and vegetables not covered by a specific standard must meet the general standard - or the applicable UNECE standard. Operators are free to choose which.

Specific marketing standards for Fruit and Vegetables:

The number of specific standards has been reduced from 36 to the following 10 products:

  • apples
  • citrus fruit
  • kiwifruit
  • lettuces, curled-leaved and broad-leaved endives
  • peaches and nectarines
  • pears
  • strawberries
  • sweet peppers
  • table grapes
  • tomatoes 

Requirements of specific marketing standards:

The specific marketing standards classify the fruit and vegetables into three classes and the requirements for each class of the specific product is set out in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1580/2007

  • 'Extra' class
  • Class I
  • Class II

The Standard also sets out provisions concerning

  • Quality - minimum requirements, classification, sizing
  • Tolerances in respect of quality and size that are allowed in each package for produce not satisfying the requirements of the class indicated.
  • Presentation -uniformity of the produce, packaging, presentation
  • Indications on the packaging which must be in letters grouped together on the same side, legibly and indelibly marked and visible from the outside.  


Produce must be packed in such a way as to protect the produce properly. The materials used inside the package must be new, clean and of a quality such as to avoid causing any external or internal damage to the produce. The use of materials, particularly paper or stamps bearing trade specifications is allowed, provided the printing or labelling has been done with non-toxic ink or glue.

Packages must be free of all foreign matter.

Stickers individually affixed on product shall in a way that when removed, will not leave visible traces of glue, or to lead to skin defects.

Where a product is wrapped, thin, dry new and odourless paper must be used.

Indications required on the packaging:

Each package must bear the following particulars, in letters grouped on the same side, legibly and marked, and visible from the outside: 

  • Identification (The name and the address of the packer and/or the dispatcher).
  • ​All packages with the exception of pre-packages, by the officially issued or accepted code mark representing the packer and/or the dispatcher should be indicated in close connection with the reference ‘Packer and/or Dispatcher' (or equivalent abbreviations).
  • Nature of produce
  • Origin of produce (Country of origin and, optionally, district where grown or national, regional or local place name).
  • Commercial specifications
  • Official control mark (optional). 

Legal Reference:

Directorates Role (functions in reaching the objective):

The Agricultural Directorate shall be responsible for the implementation and enforcement of these regulations, including the establishment of the necessary contacts and coordination mechanisms relating to marketing standards.

The new regulation (as was from 1st July 2009 EU Regulation 1121/2008 as modified by EU Regulation 543/2011) simplifies and rationalizes checking operations, reducing the administrative burden for inspection and customs services and facilitating the work of approved exporters and importers.

The Agricultural Directorate shall set up a database listing traders involved in the marketing of fresh fruit and vegetables in terms of EC Regulation No 1580/2007.

It is the Directorate's Role to ensure that checks are carried out selectively, based on risk analysis and with appropriate frequency, to ensure compliance with the standards and other statutory requirements for marketing fruit and vegetables.

The risk analysis must be based on the information in the trader database. The Agricultural Directorate must lay down in advance which criteria they will use to determine the risk of non-compliance for a batch of produce.

Where the conformity checks conducted, reveal significant irregularities, the Director shall order the increase in the frequency of checks in relation to traders, products, origins, or other parameters.

Traders must give inspection bodies all the information they need to organize and carry out compliance checks. 

Based on a product-by-product risk assessment, the Agricultural Directorate may choose not to selectively check products not covered by a specific marketing standard (i.e. are covered by the general standard or a UNECE standard).

The Competent Authority shall lay down specific arrangements for checking conformity at the point of retail or sale to the end consumer.

Where the Agricultural Directorate finds that the products conform to the marketing standards, it shall issue a conformity certificate in terms of regulation 12 according to the Supplies and Services Act chapter 117.

Where the Directorate finds that the products do not conform to the required marketing standards, it shall issue a finding of non-conformity for the attention of the trader or his representatives. Products for which a finding of non-conformity has been issued may not be moved without the authorisation of the Directorate which issued such finding of non-conformity. Such authorisation can be subject to conformity with the conditions laid down by the Director.

In the case of products that can neither be brought into conformity nor can be sent as animal feed, industrial processing or any other non-food use, the Agricultural Directorate may, if necessary, request traders to take adequate measures, in order to ensure that the products concerned are not marketed.

Any trader who fails to comply with any of the provisions of these regulations shall be guilty of an offence under the EU legislations it will be in the Directorate's interest to penalize the traders concerned.


European Commission Agriculture and Rural Development - Fruit and vegetables - Marketing Standards


Legal Documents:

​​​For relevant application forms and information sheets, please Click Here​​