Minister Simon Takes on Retail Chains
Daily Hospodarske Noviny (HN) recently carried out a survey on the quality of comparable products being sold by the Billa and Lidl stores in Austria and Slovakia.
The results pointed to huge differences in percentages of basic ingredients in the case of Billa, which retaliated by rejecting the claims made in the newspaper that it is selling inferior products in Slovakia compared to Austria. Jiri Kralicek from Billa Slovensko pointed out how the company’s Clever brand is a top seller and there have never been any complaints in ten years.
The HN survey took a sample of basic foodstuffs and compared their contents (including ketchup, sausages, jam, ham and yoghurt) that can be bought on both sides of the border in Billa and Lidl stores. The results show that the content of products sold in Austria are of a much higher quality than those sold here.
Billa defended itself by saying the Austrian products are made there and the Slovak ones are made in Slovakia or the Czech Republic, and also noted how the Slovak products in the survey were around 24% cheaper.
In response also to other recent findings about dodgy meat products, agriculture minister Zsolt Simon called a meeting with retail chains to discuss issues of quality and hygiene. Simon is outraged by how Slovaks are being treated like second class citizens in Europe when it comes to food quality.
The Ministry feels that these kinds of practices are unacceptable while the retail chains are claiming that a harmful campaign is being waged against them, denying the claims. The retail chains issued a press release yesterday by way of the Slovak Association of trade and Tourism (ZOCR) setting out how their food poses no health risk and satisfies respective criteria.
The statement from the retail chains attacks minister Simon for what they call an “aggressive slander campaign against the retail sector”, while telling him to speak to the actual food producers, because it is they in the end that are responsible for the quality of products.