Czech food stores selling more German food

The issue of two quality standards has led to increased interest in imports

The two levels of food quality between Eastern and Western Europe has caused Czech customers to look for better quality food from Germany. Imports of food from Germany increased by 9.3 percent to Kč 21.2 billion this year.

Surveys carried out in cooperation with the Czech Ministry of Agriculture have uncovered many items sold under the same brand name have lower quality in the Czech Republic than in Germany.

The European Commission has also acknowledged that there is a problem. In his Sept. 13 State of the Union address, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker mentioned the issue and promised to take action, but that will take time.

Until then, consumers who want higher quality are looking to imports.

In the Czech Republic, especially in the border area, there is a growing number of shops and e-shops that specialize in importing food and health care items from Germany.

Some large online shops such as Rohlik.cz and Košík.cz have a separate category for food and goods from Germany on their websites.

Rohlik.cz reports the biggest interest is in health care items, dairy products, and smoked meats. Sales have risen tens of percent since the items were marked as coming from Germany. The company says it plans to increase its range of German products.

Košík.cz said that German items were a big success immediately after they were introduced. People are willing to buy them despite never having tried them before. Some 20 to 25 percent of customers now buy German goods. Some families used to go to Germany to shop, but that is time-consuming. Being able to order German goods online saves a lot of time.

A representative of discount store Lidl, however, told the Czech news agency that they have not seen increased interest in German goods.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic have conducted tests on products sold under the same brand name in different countries. In the Czech Republic, 13 of the 21 tested products varied in quality and composition. For example, luncheon meat in the Czech Republic was made from chicken, while a product sold under the same label in Germany had pork. Detergents sold by the same brand had lower levels of active ingredients in the Czech version. Pizzas and margarine sold by the same brand were also found to be different.

People who live near the Czech-German border say differences are clearly noticeable on many items such as canned tuna, which is solid in Germany and mushy in the Czech version, or sausages that have different amounts of meat and filler.

In Slovakia pudding had different amounts of cream and fish fingers had less meat than in the Austrian versions

Czech Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) said previously that stronger European legislation was needed to battle the two-quality system, but the EU was headed in the right direction. He added that the Agriculture Ministry would continue to test products.

Czech Food Chamber (PK) President Miroslav Toman, however, told the Czech News Agency that Czech-made products are high quality, especially dairy products. The issue of two levels of quality only applies to items made by large companies selling branded products in different markets.

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