“Every second Hungarian has experienced differences in the quality of foods of the same make that are available in both Western Europe and Hungary”, it has transpired from a representative survey conducted by experts from the National Food Chain Safety Office (NFCSO). In harmony with the efforts of the Government and the Ministry of Agriculture, an overwhelming majority of the population expects international food products to be distributed with the same contents in every country, and if this is not the case, then for it to be compulsory to clearly indicate this fact to consumers.

The Hungarian Government regards the practice of distributing different quality foods to Hungarian and Central and Eastern European consumers than to people in Holland, Germany and Austria, for instance, as unacceptable. Dual quality is a phenomenon that keeps cropping up again and again, the existence of which has already been corroborated by studies in both Hungary and several neighbouring countries.

In addition to examining products, the experiences and opinions of the population with relation to the topic are also extremely important. Accordingly, the NFCSO conducted a representative survey in May 2017. Experts examined, amongst others, whether Hungarian consumers had experienced the phenomenon of dual quality during their everyday lives, in what product types they had noticed discrepancies, and what expectations they have with regard to multinational producers for a solution to the problem.

According to the NFCSO survey, 50 percent of Hungarians have experienced differences in quality with relation to foods of the same make that are available in both Western Europe and Hungary. Consumers provided many exampled from every product category, but especially with regard to confectionery industry products, milk products and soft drinks.

The differences noticed were not favourable for Hungarian consumers: 97% of people polled felt that products imported into Hungary were worse than those that international producers put on the tables of Western European consumers. Regular shoppers who are responsible for buying food for households find this practice particularly outrageous. An overwhelming majority of 80% of shoppers expect international food brands to be distributed with exactly the same contents in every country, and that if this is not the case, then for it to be compulsory to clearly indicate this fact to consumers.

Accordingly, the results of the representative survey also confirm the correctness of the measures already launched by the Government and the ministry of Agriculture in view of the fact that the Government had already turned to Brussels with relation to the problem. In addition to Hungary, Slovakia, the Check Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece also regard it as unacceptable that some 100 million European citizens have access to lower quality foods because large food producers are applying a double standard with regard to the food they distribute to people in Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe. Brussels must take action to stop this practice.

In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture has developed draft legislation that would force producers who distribute the same product in both Hungary and Western Europe, but in different qualities and with differing content, to indicate this fact to Hungarian consumers on their labelling. The Bill is currently being examined by the European Commission in view of the fact that it is they who are in a position to take legal action against this phenomenon. Until the situation is resolved, the Minister of Agriculture is recommending that people buy Hungarian products.

(Ministry of Agriculture Press Office)