Lithuania steps up vegetable import controls – ministry

  • 2024-05-07
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania's Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday it's stepping up controls of imported vegetables in cooperation with the State Food and Veterinary Service to prevent their illegal imports from Russia.

According to the ministry, this is being done in response to claims by the country's vegetable growers that cucumbers and tomatoes grown in Russia are being smuggled into Lithuania via Belarus and Poland with falsified origin documents. 

"We have heard allegations that attempts are being made to import Russian vegetables into Lithuania, allegedly grown in the European Union. We have therefore stepped up checks on the information provided to consumers on fresh fruit and vegetables' country of origin. We are carrying out laboratory tests to check the safety of these products," Audrone Mikalauskiene, head of the SFVS, said.

The ministry says laboratory tests are being carried out on products entering Lithuania, and Lithuania mulls getting an Austrian laboratory involved in determining the origin of fruit and vegetables. The SFVS is also cooperating with its Polish counterpart.

Agriculture Vice Minister Vytenis Tomkus says pan-EU measures would be the most effective way of restricting imports from Russia.

"Once goods enter the EU single market, it is much more difficult to control their movement. That is why we should seek to restrict the entry of these goods," Tomkus said.

In early April, the Lithuanian Greenhouse Association said that Russian-grown vegetables, mainly cucumbers and tomatoes, were entering Lithuania via Belarus and Poland with falsified origin documents, and they are sold for a fraction of the price of those produced locally or brought in from Poland or Latvia.

In March, Lithuania, together with Latvia, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic, called on the European Commission to consider restricting imports of Russian- and Belarusian-origin food products.