Big Corps Selling Lower Quality Foods To Poorer East EU Nations
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
A Slovenian and an Australian sip a Coca-Cola at the same time, although worlds apart. The latter enjoys a typical formula. But the former’s is exploding with elevated sugar content and fructo-glucose. The Coke in Prague might dance a more muted jig on the taste buds than the one in London. What happened?
People have suspected double standards on the part of Big Food corporations and their goods in different countries for decades now. Turns out, they were on to something.
Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, stated that “multinational food companies are selling vastly different products to different countries, but use identical branding on their packaging.”
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She says that many foods sold in Eastern Europe by Western multinational corporations are significantly inferior to the same brand’s product sold in Western Europe.
She voiced the exasperation of the Eastern European people who “feel the need to buy things abroad in order to have fish fingers that will contain fish meat, or orange juice that will contain oranges.”
“The frustration is growing and we should do something against it,” she told The Guardian.
However, aside from the Coca-Cola, Sputnik reports:
The report also found Slovenian ‘Spar’ yogurt to contain 40 percent less berries than the same branded product sold in Austria. Other examples include Lidl, Pepsi and Birds Eye, according to the report.
Of course, the multinational corps are claiming that they are adapting to local tastes (except when it comes to GMO ingredients, but that’s another story). “We occasionally slightly adapt our beverages to meet local consumer tastes and preferences,” stated a Coca-Cola rep. Yet, it’s highly unlikely anyone wants to pay top dollar to get less berries in their yogurt. Jourova claims that it’s not just foodstuffs that are affected – it’s other products less subjective such as laundry detergents.
After Bulgaria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary published reports about the poor quality imports from Western multinational Big Food corps, it finally caught the attention of the European Commission.
The issue of “dual food” is now stirring up the higher ups. Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar commented:
I believe sometimes you can clearly see the reasons for such unacceptable practices is simply to gain more profit. This is what the companies usually try to do. But anything essential for quality of life must be brought under control.
“We say for the first time clearly: this is unfair commercial practice. In many cases, yes, I am convinced [that the law has been broken] because there is manifest cheating,” Jourova said.
Jourova angered her supporters when she opted not to name other names. She is giving the corporations time to recalibrate their practices, but if they do not, she will not hesitate to publicly declare them. “I am quite brave on this,” she said.
While the Big Food corps said they adopt a “code of conduct,” she aptly wondered why a code of conduct was necessary to obey the law. In lieu of “the code” she offered this:
My ideal solution is to increase the quality of the food.
The second best is to rename the brands [in eastern Europe] so that people are not misled — but that’s not my preferred option.
What about you? Do you suspect your country is receiving a lower quality good than the next. Sound off below and don’t forget to share!
Photo: Amy Ross