The Czech state may launch an information campaign to promote quality foods at the cost of low quality, but it must not poke its nose into what private firms produce and people buy, Miroslav Korecky says in Mlada fronta Dnes in reaction to Prague’s crusade against a dual quality of foods in the EU, The Prague Monitor writes.
The Czech Republic, together with other Central and East European countries, are indignant at the quality of foods on their markets being lower than the quality of the same products sold in the West.
On Thursday, the Visegrad Four (V4, comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) even discussed the issue at its summit in Warsaw and decided to jointly urge Brussels to intervene and pass a directive to ban the above differences, Korecky writes.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) has focused on the crusade in the past days as he feels it may help him score points ahead of the October general election, Korecky writes.
The Czechs actually do not care about quality foods and healthy nutrition very much. Most households prefer buying foods that hypermarkets offer for discount prices. In spite of that, Sobotka has put on a mask of an implacable avenger who would never allow the Germans and Austrians to cheat Czechs by having better quality foods in their shops, kitchens and pantries, Korecky writes.
Sobotka insists that the quality of foods must be only one, the highest, across the EU, Korecky writes.
Who has decided this? Who has asked Czech consumers whether they are ready to pay more for higher quality? Korecky asks.
Why should the state or even the whole EU tackle an issue that is purely a business of private producers and the consumers? he asks.
Of course, let the state strictly intervene if a food producer put poisons in his products or if he released false information about the product’s composition. However, if the producer offers legal thrash to people and they buy it, it is no one else’s business, Korecky writes.
The explanation why, for example, the Pepsi Cola producer uses sugar and maize starch to sweet the colas designated for Germans and the Czechs, respectively, is simple. Either the producer feels that the Eastern consumers seek low prices much more than people in the West, and therefore he uses cheaper ingredients. Or the producer considers Czechs a part of the Wild East that can smoothly accept thrash, Korecky writes.
This finding is far from pleasant. However, if the Czechs considered this so big a problem, they would have reduced their purchases of thrash, and a rival offer of more quality foods, both home- and foreign-made, would have appeared on the Czech market long ago, Korecky writes.
No demand for such a rival offer has been registered among Czech customers for the time being, he says. The state, of course, need not remain inactive. It may launch a large information offensive, declare what quality foods are, and thereby exert pressure on producers. Otherwise, however, neither the Czech government nor the EU must poke their nose in what private firms produce and free citizens buy, Korecky adds.
Commenting on the same issue in daily Pravo, Michal Mocek writes that the Czech and other Eastern governments’ campaign against the dual quality of foods cannot be credible unless the respective countries’ authorities start resolutely intervening against the “culprit” producers and sellers at home.
A mere speaking, whining and making resolutions would hardly make anyone in Brussels believe that the different quality of foods is a serious problem, Mocek writes.
At present, the Czechs are really second-rate consumers in the EU, who obediently consume what the multinational producers offer to them with the aim to rip them off, Mocek writes.
At the same time, however the Czechs themselves are to blame for this, as they turned a blind eye on the problem for many years and now they remain inactive, in spite of their series of sharp statements, he writes.