Proposed legal amendments with impact on food retail market in Romania

24.03.2016

Draft bill on amending the Law No. 321/2009 on food products’ commercialization

The draft bill adopted in October 2015 by the Romanian Senate aims to bring amendments to the Law No. 321/2009 on commercialization of food products, with respect to provisions regulating products which originate from local producers. The initiators of the bill came to the conclusion that the national producers are about to lose their business, due to the fact that they do not have the possibility to sell their goods. The expansion of the supermarkets and hypermarkets during the last years led to a decrease of the Romanian traditional commerce. Thus, the initiative has as goal the settlement of rules which will ensure the access of all local producers and the reintroduction of the Romanian food products on the market, as well as the readjustment of the prices up to a “decent level”, by introducing the following main amendments:

  • service, discounts and other obligations requested by retailers from Romanian producers shall not exceed 5% of the value of the commercialized goods;
  • retailers shall have the obligation to ensure exposition and selling spaces for food products manufactured by Romanian producers of at least 50% of the existing surface which is used for the food products’ commercialization. A minimum of 20% of these spaces should be allocated to all local producers;
  • during winter time (December-February) the import of food products shall be allowed in a proportion of maximum 70% only.  

It is important to note that the amendments are aimed to produce effects also on on-going agreements, which shall need to be modified accordingly within 60 days from the date when the new amendments will enter into force.

The fines set forth under the bill could reach up to RON 150,000, to the extent that the provisions of the Competition Law no. 21/1996 are not applicable. In case of recurrence, the authorities are entitled to cease the activity of the retailer.

The next discussion on this draft bill will take place within the next session of the Agricultural Commission of the Deputies’ Chamber at the end of March, 2016.

Draft bill regarding the donation of food products which are on the verge of expiry

The Romanian Senate adopted in November 2015 a draft bill regarding the mitigation of food products wastage. According to the proposed amendments, the legal entities performing trade activities with food products will be bound to take actions in view of minimizing the wastage of food products starting from the manufacturing, processing, depositing or commercializing of such products in all industries, including hospitality and food services. Practically, the food products which are on the verge of expiry, but still eligible for consumption, will not be subject to destruction any more. The bill sets forth the obligation of donating such products to humanitarian foundations and associations, hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes and other similar entities.

The products that are not appropriate for human consumption will be delivered to associations which host animals, provided that they are not harmful to their health. If the products are not adequate for animal use either, they will serve for agricultural purposes or for obtaining biogas.

The suggested fines to be applied for breaching the donating rules amount up to RON 10,000 for retailers.  

The bill received recently favourable answers from the legal, environmental and agricultural commissions of the Deputies’ Chamber and finally from the industrial commission on March 16th, 2016.

Draft bill regarding labelling of milk products

Based on the provisions of the EU-Regulation No. 1169/2011 on food products' labelling, the Senate adopted in October 2015 a draft bill in view of changing the mandatory information which has to be mentioned on the labels of milk products. The initiators grounded their initiative on statistical results published by the Competition Council, based on which only 63% of the milk sold in supermarkets and hypermarkets is per se Romanian, while 36% is imported from other EU countries and the rest of 1% from countries outside EU. Thus, if the label contains the mentioning "produced in Romania" it does not mean that the milk is produced by Romanian cows, but only that it was packed in Romania. Furthermore, it was ascertained that the population is misled by the use of the terms "cow's milk" or "authentic milk", as far as the product is not obtained directly from the cows’ milk.

Therefore, the initiators proposed new mandatory information to be expressly mentioned on the labels of such products, namely the origin of the milk as raw material or the provenance of the crude milk, as well as the phrase "It contains powder milk in amount of X %".

The bill recently received favourable answers from the legal, health and industrial commissions of the Deputies’ Chamber and finally from the agricultural commission on March 22nd, 2016.

Draft bill regarding labelling of processed food products

Because of increasing risk of abusive consumption of salt, sugar and fat for the human body, which leads to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or renal affections, a group of deputies proposed the issuing of a new law in view of completing the mandatory information mentioned on labels of processed food products.

The bill defines the processed food products as being any product or drink destined for human consumption, which is obtained by processing the basic product in any manner. Furthermore, it divides the processed food products in three categories – high, moderate and low level of risk – based on the levels of salt, sugar and fat used during their manufacturing.

This information should be brought to the attention of the consumer through the "cardiovascular risk label" which will consist of distinct symbols that will differentiate the level of risk. The "cardiovascular risk labels" shall be applied on the relevant processed food products within 6 months as of the date when the new provisions will enter into force.

Please note that this draft bill is still in the initial phase of the legislative process and has not received yet any notice from the relevant commissions of the Parliament.

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It is not certain whether the aforementioned bills will be approved or when it will happen, therefore we shall monitor any further legal developments of these matters and keep you in the loop.