ECJ on country of origin: the decisive factor is the location of the harvest

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Germany is the county of origin for fruits and vegetables harvested in Germany, even if prior to this the fruits or vegetables were grown in another country. That was the verdict of the ECJ.

The courts frequently hear cases concerning designations of origin for foodstuffs. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that consumers must not be misled as to the origin of foodstuffs by the designation of origin.

In a ruling from September 4, 2019, the ECJ held that “Ursprungsland Deutschland” (country of origin Germany) is a permissible designation for fruits and vegetables (in this case mushrooms) even if they were grown in another country and merely harvested in Germany (Az. C-686/17).

In the case in question, mushrooms grown in culture boxes in the Netherlands were being brought to Germany shortly before harvest, harvested, and labelled with “Ursprungsland Deutschland”. A competition association brought an action against this, claiming that this designation misled consumers because all the key stages of production took place outside of Germany.

The ECJ took a different view, ruling that European customs law was decisive here. The Court held that according to the EU Customs Code, the country of origin is where the harvest took place and that further details regarding the food’s cultivation were not necessary.

Lawyers with experience in the field of competition law can offer advice.

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