During an unexpected check by competition agents and the repression of fraud on a market between producers in Marseille, sellers, “probably in difficulty to justify the origin of the products, deliberately abandoned their goods” on the spot , detailed the prefecture in a press release.
In total, some 4.5 tons of tomatoes, courgettes, peppers and other fruits and vegetables probably coming from abroad although presented as “made in France” have been abandoned and will be redistributed in the food aid circuit.
Seven criminal proceedings will be established and forwarded to the prosecution in order to prosecute the perpetrators of this “francization” fraud.
It was at 2 a.m. on Tuesday that the investigators began the control operation on a market between professionals specializing in the sale of fruit and vegetables, in the 14th arrondissement of Marseille.
The operation aimed to verify the origin of the goods present on one of the largest markets between producers in France in which resellers can obtain supplies, who will then carry out the retail sale.
By inspecting “the invoices, the labeling of the packages or the quality” of the foodstuffs, the inspectors were able to uncover two deceptive commercial practices: the “francization” of food from abroad and that of the “false producer”. , consisting of falsely impersonating the producer of the goods.
The foodstuffs, sold here to wholesalers and other distributors, “find themselves displayed for sale on the stalls of the summer markets and at the small traders of the department” very touristy in summer, she recalls.
By intervening upstream of the marketing chain, the investigators “ensure the loyalty and the quality of the products up to the end customer, the consumer”, affirms the prefecture.
Local farmers are also present in this farmers market. So the fight against fraud allows them to respect “healthy and fair” competition, she added.
When established, this practice constitutes an offense of deceptive commercial practice punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 euros.
In July 2021, a vast investigation was opened by the Tarascon prosecutor’s office (Bouches-du-Rhône) following the francization of fruits and vegetables from Spain.