Position of METRO AG on Dual Quality Provisions
As a result of concerns stemming from number of governments and politicians in CEE countries that the food products sold in their markets seem to be of a lower quality than the products in other EU countries, the European Commission has acted and proposed a ban in 2018 as part of the revision of four consumer rights directives on the so-called dual quality of products, which was later adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.
Under the new Omnibus Directive (EU 2019 /2161) any marketing of a good, in one Member State, as being identical to a good marketed in other Member States, while that good has significantly different composition or characteristics, is already regarded as a misleading commercial practice and prohibited, unless justified by legitimate and objective factors.
Meanwhile the Joint Research Center of the European Commission (JRC) has also taken up the issue and has run four EU-wide testing campaigns in 2019-2021 on food, household and personal care products as well as packaging to assess the alleged differences. JRC concluded that there are different compositions of food products on the market but there is no East-West divide. In 2021 campaign on food products there even was a 7% decline compared to 2019 testing of products bearing the same or a similar packaging but having different composition.
Today we see similar efforts to introduce dual quality provisions on the Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition Directive proposal, which aims to provide better information to consumers about product durability, repairability, and environmental impact. The amendments adopted by the European Parliament are concerning and we believe they should be deleted from the final text and the original proposal of the European Commission should be maintained where differences in product composition can be justified by legitimate and objective factors.
JRC did not identify a geographical pattern of such compositional / packaging differences and also emphasized that compositional differences of the products tested must not be interpreted to constitute a difference in product quality. Any legislative change should take these science-based findings into consideration. You may read our detailed position on the issue.