Vast majority of Czech consumers want better quality food, survey shows

Photo: Indabelle, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

The vast majority of Czech consumers, some 97 percent, want tougher quality parameters on foodstuffs sold in the country, according to a June survey whose results were made public by the Czech Consumer Association on Tuesday. More than nine out of ten respondents also said that they wouldn’t mind if the tougher rules resulted in restrictions on cheap food imports.

Photo: Indabelle,  Flickr,  CC BY-NC 2.0
According to the survey, nine out of ten Czechs also see the fact that there are different product compositions in various European states as a malpractice and more than 80 percent consider the Czech Republic to be a “dust-bin of Europe” when it comes to the food that is sold to them.

Libor Dupal, the chairman of the board of the Czech Consumer Association, said he was surprised by the one-sidedness of the results.

He said that his organisation has no evidence that the Czech Republic was a location where producers dump their worst products.

Rather, he said, such points of view were boosted by campaigns and statements by politicians. According to Mr. Dupal, the problem with good quality food stuffs is a Czech one, not that of Brussels. He suggests that the state introduce stricter conditions for food evaluation.

In a move aimed at tackling the much discussed “dual food quality“ problem, the government did agree to a new law amendment in May, according to which foodstuffs sold under the same packaging need to be of the same composition as in other EU states.

Those who break the legislation could face having to pay a penalty of up to CZK 50 million. However, it does include an exception for cases where the vendor or produces explain the difference with “valid and objective” reasons.

The government’s solution has not been welcomed by all.

The Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism did see the law amendment as a move in the right direction, but it has repeatedly stated in previous months that such legislation will not solve the issue of dual quality food. They argue that it will simply result in lower quality foodstuffs still being imported into the country, but with the correct labelling.

The president of the confederation, Tomáš Prouza, said in April that the main problem lies in the unwillingness of Western food producers to allow Czech traders to buy the better quality food meant for Western markets.

However, the issue seems to go deeper, as a June study by the European Commission showed that dual quality products can be found across the European Union and not just in Eastern member states.