Guide

Food labelling and packaging in international trade

Food labelling rules for fruit and vegetables in the UK and European Union

Marketing standards are enforced by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

European Community (EC) general marketing standards require most fruit and vegetables to be labelled with their country of origin. The standard requires produce to be intact, clean, sufficiently mature, free from rot and free from pests and pest damage. However, several common products are not covered by the general marketing standard.

They include:

  • potatoes
  • coconuts
  • sugarcane
  • sweetcorn
  • wild mushrooms
  • chilli peppers
  • capers
  • Brazil nuts
  • bitter or shelled almonds
  • shelled hazelnuts and walnuts
  • olives
  • pine nuts
  • bananas
  • saffron
  • ginger
  • peanuts
  • sweet potatoes and yams

EC specific marketing standards cover these products:

  • fruits - apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, and table grapes
  • vegetables and salads - lettuces, curly- and broad-leaved endives, sweet peppers and tomatoes

Labelling required includes country of origin, packer name and address, quality class and for some products a size/count and/or a variety/type.

If you import or export any of the fruit and vegetables listed above with specific marketing standards into or from the UK from or to any country outside of the European Union (EU) for selling fresh, you will require a Certificate of Conformity before your goods can be released into or from free circulation within the EU. You do not require a certificate if the goods are to be used for processing, or for most other fruit, vegetables, nuts and herbs.

However, several common products are not covered by these new standards. 

Traders in England and Wales must obtain a Certificate of Conformity through a Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates (PEACH).

PEACH only applies to Scotland and Northern Ireland businesses whose imports arrive via either England or Wales. For direct imports from outside the EU, Scottish importers should contact the Scottish Government Rural Directorate on Tel 0131 244 6015. Importers from Northern Ireland should contact the DAERA Helpline on Tel 028 9052 4999.

For further information, see making the matching process for PEACH certificates.

Download information on marketing standards for fruit and vegetables (PDF, 237K).

When importing, you must clearly label your shipping packaging with detailed information about the goods, including their country of origin and, where applicable, variety/type, size, weight, and details of the packer.

If you import nuts there are emergency controls to consider. For further information see working with the Port Health Authorities.

If you do not comply with EC marketing standards, you may have to remove your goods from sale, re-label, re-sort them, send them for industrial processing or dump them.