Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka on September 4 agreed with Slovak counterpart Robert Fico to call a summit in Bratislava to debate the differing qualities of food products in Eastern and Western Europe.
“We do not want to eat and drink crap,” Fico bluntly commented, announcing the key meeting.
On July 11, Czech Agriculture Minister Marian Jurecka called on his EU counterparts to finally address the issue of inferior supermarket products being sold in ‘second league’ Central and Eastern Europe compared to what is distributed in Western Europe. Announcing in-depth research results, he said: “This shows the problem exists.”
Jurecka has complained that Czechs are tired of being Europe’s “garbage can”. An investigative survey commissioned by his ministry revealed, for instance, that the German version of Persil contains 20% more active ingredients than the Czech one, while Iglo (“Birdseye” in the UK) fishfingers are 64% meat in Germany but only 50% meat in the Czech Republic.
Perceived double standards in food have become a hot issue for the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. Citizens of the Visegrad 4 nations see it as an example of their second-class status compared with the bloc's western members. Bulgaria is another country where the topic has raised a lot of concern.
Although Eurostat says food is about 25% cheaper in the Czech Republic than in Germany, many Czechs regularly head over the border to shop in Germany or Austria. Persil is said to be both cheaper and better in Germany.
Tests conducted for the Czech Agriculture Ministry by University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (VSCHT) of 21 products sold in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic determined that only three were the same in all the countries, while five were "slightly different" and 13 were “different”.
On September 5, meanwhile, Czech liberal-conservative opposition party TOP 09 launched its campaign for the October general election saying that “fields are for food”, not for crops grown to make biodiesel components. Czechs often moan about the number of fields made by bright-yellow by rapeseed cultivated for biodiesel component producers.