European fruit and vegetable producers have spoken out against Brussels' move to repeal standards governing the size and shape of fruit and vegetables.

The European Commission confirmed yesterday (12 November) that it has received sufficient approval from member states to lift marketing standards for 26 different types of fruit and vegetables.

A spokesperson for the Commission told just-food that the move would mean less food waste and greater consumer choice, as retailers will now be able to sell dwarf, jumbo or misshapen fruit and vegetables.

However, the decision is a controversial one.

In July, five member states - including France, Italy and Spain - voted against the change under pressure from fruit and vegetable growers, wholesalers and retailers.

The move has continued to attract criticism from the sector. A spokesperson for European farmer body Copa and Cogeca told just-food that there is a concern among fruit and vegetable growers that repealing the standards could have a negative impact on quality and trade.

"The use of objective parameters such as size and uniformity helps put a clear and unequivocal price on each quality, at both the producer and consumer level. As such, EU marketing standards have helped to fairly and transparently balance out trade," Pekka Pesonen, secretary general of Copa and Cogeca, said in a statement.

Copa and Cogeca rejected the suggestion that such regulations were a form of protectionism. "The issue is one of quality," the spokesperson said.

Copa and Cogeca warned that the lack of a common, European-wide standard could pave the way for national governments to establish individual standards, thus hampering trade between countries in the European Economic Area.