There aren’t many countries whose citizens can honestly say that they cross international borders in the name of doing their weekly grocery shopping.
But a number of Czech consumers, not to mention our long-suffering readership, regularly do just that in an effort to avoid the poor facsimiles of name brand products commonly found on local supermarket shelves.
In fact, a 2015 study discovered that 35 percent of foodstuffs sold under name brands in the Czech Republic (instant coffee, yogurt, margarine, and some brands of cold cuts) were made with different ingredients than their Western versions.
Such sales are legal within the European Union where as long as manufacturers list all of the ingredients on their packaging, formulations may differ between markets.
Large companies like Coca-Cola and Tchibo have defended the practice by saying that they are simply catering to local taste buds and living standards.
Czech Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka, who recently dubbed the Czech Republic “Europe’s garbage can,” says that he vehemently disagrees.
Jurečka has announced that he will team up with policymakers in Slovakia and Hungary to petition the EU to ban sales of inferior food within Central and Eastern Europe.
To that end, a food-quality study has been ordered; that data will be used to push for new legistation that would see consistent ingredients across the EU.
The primary aim of Jurečka’s initiative is to ensure that items with the same producer, the same packaging, and the same font have the same ingredients.
According to Eurostat, food is about 25 percent cheaper overall in the Czech Republic than in neighboring Germany.
See here for more on Food Quality in the Czech Republic.