THE Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) has launched an investigation into Freshmark, Checkers and Shoprite outlets for mislabelling fresh produce.
The enterprises have labelled products indicating that they are grown in Namibia when in actual fact they are imported from South Africa.
Last week, The Namibian reported that the Freshmark products, which are sold by Checkers and Shoprite, are grown in South Africa although the labels say they are produced in Namibia. This revelation led to the NSI launching an investigation, in which sample products were taken from several Checkers and Shoprite shops.
The Namibian understands that the NSI plans to take strict measures to rectify the issue.
NSI general manager for corporate services, Rozina Jacobs, confirmed that the body has launched an investigation into the matter.
She said the NSI instituted an investigation on Checkers City Centre and Shoprite Lafrenz in Windhoek and found that both shops had misleading labels.
“We have taken samples and issued prohibition to both shops while we are investigating. They have 11 days to rectify the situation,” Jacobs said.
Speaking from Shoprite headquarters in South Africa, spokesperson Sarita van Wyk said the produce carrying the 'Product of Namibia' signage originates from Namibia.
“Shoprite is committed to procure as much produce as possible locally in countries where we operate and only import if the required quality is not available locally or out of season,” said Van Wyk.
She said their fresh produce procurement arm, Freshmark, however, utilises South African packaging “that is produced in bulk as a cost-saving exercise in the interest of our customers' pockets”.
Van Wyk said the exact country of origin is indicated by the sticker applied to the package.
“We will however revisit this practice and investigate alternative methods. Shoprite apologises for any misunderstanding this may have caused some of our loyal customers and valued Namibian fresh produce suppliers,” she said.
A consumer, Reinhold Kambuli, who alerted The Namibian of the mislabelling, said this kind of action cost the Namibian farmers because Namibian customers assume they are buying local products.
Team Namibia CEO Daisry Mathias yesterday said she had contacted Shoprite and Checkers to arrange a meeting next week to discuss the issue.
“We need the retailers on board, to stop this,” she said.