The Czech Agriculture Ministry has announced plans to introduce new legislation which should determine what food products can be labelled as Czech. The ministry believes such legislation would prevent retailers from deceiving consumers, who are increasingly choose domestic products over foreign imports.
Existing Czech law is unclear about what can be considered a Czech food product and what cannot. This has led some retailers to label their products as Czech, although these would not qualify as such under any reasonable definition.
Last year, the Penny Market supermarket chain landed a fine of 600,000 crowns for putting the label “Czech Quality” on products imported from Poland and Slovakia. The retailer also pinned the slogan “From Czech bakers” to bread made in Germany.
But the issue of unclear definition of Czech food products will become even more pressing in January. That’s when large retailers will be required to list five countries where their best-selling products come from. The list should be placed visibly at the entrance to each store.
There are several designations of Czech origin currently used by the country’s food producers. These include Klasa, a quality label awarded by the Agriculture Ministry, and Český výrobek, or Czech Product, a designation given to some 1,200 products by the country’s Federation of the Food and Drink Industries.
But now of these actually provide a general definition of what a Czech food product is. To avoid confusion in the future, Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka has unveiled plans for new legislation.
“We want a clear definition which would say that food products of Czech origin must contain certain percentage of ingredients originating in the Czech Republic,” Mr Jurečka told a news conference on Thursday. “In the case of vegetable-based products, for example, it should be clear that these were grown in the Czech Republic,” the minister added.
Minister Jurečka has also unveiled a marketing project in support Czech food producers. The ministry will spend between 50 and 60 million crowns on a consumer competition, asking people to collect logos of origin and quality designation. The ministry is also planning to launch a campaign entitled Czech Christmas with Regional Food Products that should increase sales of regional food ahead of the festive season.