Author: Rasa Puciene, junior consultant at METIDA
- Is it true that Lithuania is provided with less quality food?
- The research revealed inconvenient truth
- What we can expect in the future?
After the holiday season, it doesn’t matter at all whether all of the twelve meals have been eaten whereas talking about food is still worthwhile. Search for high-quality food products has become part of the daily routine for almost everyone. We often stretch our hand towards famous products that we have grown to like, so we don’t often try something new on the market. The objective of a product trademark is to help the consumer find guidance and be sure that the quality will be the same, regardless of where you buy the product. However, this is not what the tests show.
Same Brand, But Different Contents
It was not very long ago when tests revealed something that has been discussed in our society for a long time: the quality of products of certain brands is different in Lithuania from those that can be purchased on Western European markets. According to the State Food and Veterinary Service, products in Germany contain less chemicals and colorants, featuring sugar rather than sweeteners, as well as sunflower seed oil is used instead of cheap palm oil to fry potato chips. The differences can be observed not only by the way of test results, but also by reading the contents provided on the packaging in small letters. Similar checks conducted in other countries of Central Europe produced the same results.
Disservice to Producers?
The interesting thing is that the situation cannot be regarded as forgery of food products, which is considered a violation of intellectual property. Forgeries are often a health hazard, while the above-mentioned differences of contents of the same product are in line with all the requirements stipulated by law. Producers say the differences are due to different needs of consumers, however, they do not mean a difference in quality. When buying the same brand of products, we expect them to taste the same in Vilnius, Vienna and Barcelona. However, we sometimes feel different flavors in foreign countries, although we can buy the same chocolate cream or yogurt at a store that is round the corner from our home. A reasonable question emerges: is the producer sabotaging themselves by doing their best to defend their good name?
Image and Asset
A trademark makes something stand out among competitors and reflects the producer’s values. It serves as a type of quality guarantee. This is the reason the publication of the inconsistencies of contents is a disgrace and at the same time creates a niche for new products and undermine the value of the trademarks listed in the tests. Of course, standards stipulating trademark protection does not specify that producers are obligated to stick to the same contents of their products. However, one should not forget that consumers will appreciate the efforts of improving contents, quality and taste of the product, but not the product differences that are easy to notice. Regardless of the conclusion by the parliamentary inquiry commission that the differences in some cases benefited Lithuanian consumers, the image of certain trademarks was affected.
With no thorough tests, we certainly cannot speak about uniformity of other products in different countries. The wave of discontent has reached European Union institutions, and for that reason an analysis of contents of the same products and inquiry conclusions are going to be provided by December of 2018. When it comes to Lithuania, the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority has already turned to producers and distributors with the goal of establishing the trends of dual quality of products. We can only hope that producers will draw relevant conclusions from the scandals, so that we in Lithuania could enjoy products with the same taste and contents as in other countries.