The Office of Competition and Consumers imposed a fine on the Kaufland chain in the amount of approximately PLN 124 million for unfair use of contractual advantage and PLN 13.2 million for incorrect labeling of vegetables with the country of origin.
The practice of negotiating a contract after the start of the year concerned over 800 contractors in 2018-2020, 72 of which had to pay unfavorable compensation for a total amount of nearly PLN 37 million. In turn, unfair retroactive discounts were obtained from 176 suppliers for a total amount of over PLN 30 million. Affected entities were largely small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as farms and producer groups. These were, among others meat plants, dairy cooperatives, confectionery producers, bakeries, processors of fruit and vegetables, fish, producers of beverages, snacks and cereal products – the release said.
– The principles of cooperation of the commercial network with suppliers, including discount conditions, should be clearly defined and known to the parties before signing the contract. Meanwhile, the contractors of Kaufland Polska Markety were not sure what remuneration they would receive for deliveries and whether the previously negotiated price would be lowered. The company’s actions were contrary to morality and constituted an unfair use of a stronger negotiating position. I have decided to impose a financial penalty of almost PLN 124 million on the entrepreneur. The fine was lowered due to the attitude of Kaufland Polska Markety, which ceased its practice during our investigation and before the entrepreneur was charged. The information provided to the Office by the network shows that it happened after I issued a decision regarding a similar practice towards Jeronimo Martins Polska – he said President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, Tomasz Chróstny.
Wrong information in every third store
In addition, the network misled consumers as to the country of origin of the vegetables. During the inspection, irregularities related to incorrect indication of the country of origin (placing other information on the label, and still other information on the collective / unit packaging) were revealed in an average of every third store (it was 27 Kaufland outlets out of 71 checked during the inspection). In all Kaufland stores where irregularities were found, a total of 215 batches of vegetables were inspected. The inspectors had objections to 53 parties. In the second quarter of 2021, the Trade Inspection visited 32 Kaufland stores to check whether the irregularities still occurred – in 14 of them the country of origin of the vegetables was incorrectly stated.
As stated, the right to information is a fundamental right of every consumer. At the same time, product information must be accurate, clear and easy to understand for consumers and must not be misleading in any way.
– Inspections of the Trade Inspection confirmed that in the stores of the chain Kaufland on a regular basis, the consumer received wrong information about where the vegetables came from, which influenced his purchasing decisions, which is why I initiated proceedings in this matter and issued a decision. I ordered that consumers should not be misled and decided to impose a financial penalty on this retail chain – added Chróstny.
The decision is not final and may be appealed against in court.