Food Market Act approved
The President of the Republic has approved a government proposal for a Food Market Act. The Act will enter into force on 1 January 2019 and its objective is to improve the functionality of food markets and protect operators in vulnerable positions in the food production chain. Under the new Act, food commerce will be monitored by a food market ombudsman. The post of food market ombudsman will be opened at the Finnish Food Authority, which will begin its operations at the turn of the year.
The Act will ensure that producers have access to agreements on the sales of agricultural produce in writing. The goal is to prevent entrepreneurs in the agricultural produce and foodstuffs trade from implementing unreasonable terms and conditions or methods that go against good market practices or are otherwise unfair to the other parties involved. The Food Market Act also lays down provisions on the food market ombudsman. Under the Act, the ombudsman can issue recommendations, statements and proposals concerning the food production chain, and provide information and advice to food production operators about good business practices. Additionally, the ombudsman would be charged with monitoring compliance with the requirements and prohibitions laid down in the Act.
If the food market ombudsman observes that an entrepreneur has engaged in illegal operations, the ombudsman’s task is to negotiate with the entrepreneur in question to persuade them to cease their illegal practices. The ombudsman will determine whether the entrepreneur in question has complied with the written form and minimum requirements of the contract and, if necessary, issue a notice or public warning on the matter. Additionally, the ombudsman can appeal to the Market Court to obtain a prohibition against unfair conduct towards other entrepreneurs and issue a notice of a conditional fine for such conduct.
Inquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
Risto Lahti, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 50 565 0424
Minna-Mari Kaila, Director General, tel. +358 40 775 6060, minna-mari.kaila(at)mmm.fi
Aku-Petteri Korhonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 50 318 8948, aku-petteri.korhonen(at)mmm.fi