Percentage of food products sold as Czech could fall significantly under new rules

Photo: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

From the start of next month stricter new rules governing which foods can be sold as “Czech” come into force. The country’s supermarket chains are already calculating what percentage of the items on their shelves will be listed as locally produced – and their number could fall significantly, iHned.cz reported.

Photo: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Large retailers say that at the start of 2016 up to 90 percent of the food they were offering was from the Czech Republic, according to the news website. To qualify as “Czech” products merely needed to be customised in some way and packaged on Czech territory.

However, under new legislation coming in on January 1 that definition of country of origin is set to get tougher. In the case of foods with one component that are unprocessed retailers and producers (though the latter don’t have to) will only be able to label as “Czech” products that come from the Czech Republic.

In the case of processed foods, by contrast, at least 75 percent of all ingredients will need to be of local origin for a product to earn the designation “Czech”.

IHned.cz reports that the country’s major retailers are already looking into how many products labelled “Czech” will be on their shelves once the tighter regulations come into place. Not that they need to – it is up to the retailers themselves whether to emphasise foods’ country of origin, the news site says.

Of major retailers, at present the COOP group network of stores boasts the highest percentage of Czech products, with around 80 percent, according to a spokesperson.

By contrast, only around 45 percent of the products on the shelves at the country’s German-owned Lidl stores come from Czech producers.

None of the major chains that responded to iHned.cz said they could estimate how large the fall in goods designated as “Czech” will be once the new rules take effect. However, some said off the record that the decline could be by as much as 60 percent.

The president of the Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism, Marta Nováková, told the website that it would in any case not be possible for retailers to keep tabs on the country of origin.

Sellers have no mechanism for checking the share of individual components in a foodstuff, she said. All they can do is ask suppliers or producers and then pass on the information they provide to consumers.

In fact, Nováková told iHned.cz, it is possible that the amendment will merely create the illusion of a change in ratio between Czech and foreign foodstuffs on the country’s shelves. But the goods on sale will effectively go unchanged.