Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism (CCCT) has recently launched a campaign fighting the proposed amendment to the Food Act, introducing mandatory food quotas, that was quite surprisingly approved by the Parliament this January and has caused quite a stir. The proposed amendment (due to many formal and practical reasons) did not pass the Senate and the legislators were to debate it again on April 13, 2021. Therefore, the CCCT has decided to take an action and present the potential negative impact of such regulation to general public in the meantime by means of advertising.
The CCCT persistently keeps pointing out that passing such a law would not only considerably limit the supply and offer of most groceries, but would also lead to significant price increases. The self-sufficiency of the Czech Republic in the field of food is currently about 40 percent, but according to the proposed amendment, the share of Czech food on store shelves should reach 55 percent by 2022 and at least 73 percent by 2028. The issue is that even Czech farmers themselves admit that they are not able to meet even 50 percent of food supply, not to mention all the types of food that are not (and cannot) be produced in the Czech Republic at all.
In its expressive campaign, the CCCT showed on the example of five basic products (cucumber, tomato, sea salt, chili peppers and pate) that passing the quotas would lead to these foods no longer being available the way Czech people are used to. The campaign used concise slogans such as “Czech salt? IT DOESN’T EXIST.” or Czech pate? JUST 5 DAYS A YEAR.” to show the senselessness of the proposed amendment and to create public pressure against the quotas. The campaign was visible on on-line banners, TV spots, social media or the website drahejidlo.cz (meaning “expensive food” in Czech).
In the end, the proposed amendment to the Food Act was passed without the food quotas. What did pass the Parliament, though, was the provision banning “dual quality food”. That means seemingly identical food products sold in various EU countries under the same name and in the same package, but with substantially different food composition and ingredients.
The dual quality food has been a long-discussed topic in the Czech Republic and surveys confirm that 9 out of 10 Czech consumers consider it to be an unfair practice. The European Commission also dealt with this subject in its recent study, comparing the quality of food products of the same brand in EU countries. It revealed that approximately one third of examined products had different composition.
The new amendment therefore aims to end this ambiguity in quality of comparable food products by introducing strict sanctions. Retailers will now face fines of up to CZK 50 million for selling food products seemingly interchangeable with products sold in others member states, but with substantially different composition.