Shopping in a supermarket. Illustrative photo.
Prague – Control of the Czech Trade Inspection (ČOI) based on the initiative of the Minister of Agriculture Zdeňek Nekula (KDU-ČSL) regarding the prices of sugar in the retail chain does not yet indicate a violation of the law within the supervisory competence of the ČOI. Inspector Jiří Fröhlich stated this when asked by ČTK. The check has not yet been completed. The inspection stated that possible deceptive business practices related to food are supervised by the State Agricultural and Food Inspection (SZPI), which it informed about the initiative.
Nekula informed the ČOI about the filing of the initiative at the end of February due to possible deception of the consumer. He stated that the ministry noted an incident where sugar krystal was offered in a discount campaign for CZK 32.90 and the price without discount was CZK 39.90. According to Nekula, it was not a discount because the price in the event was the regular price. He sees it as deceiving the consumer. Due to the significant increase in the price of sugar in stores in the fall of last year, the ministry also gave the initiative to the antimonopoly office.
The inspection first evaluated whether it is competent to investigate the initiative and whether it relates to the Consumer Protection Act. Fröhlich has now told ČTK that the initiative was aimed at the price of sugar for CZK 39.90 without a discount card, and the ČOI inspector, in his capacity as a consumer, was duly informed of this price and the price of CZK 39.90 was also duly charged. “The inspection has not yet been completed, but so far the progress of the inspection, which specifically concerns the price of sugar, does not indicate a violation of the law within the supervisory competence of the ČOI. The consumer was duly informed of the price of the product and the product was correctly charged for this price,” he said.
He added that possible deceptive practices in the food sector are the responsibility of SZPI and ČOI does not have supervisory powers here. “That's why we also approached SZPI in this matter and introduced it to the minister's initiative,” he added.
Nekula announced last week that the Ministry of Agriculture will lead an interdepartmental group that will deal with high food prices. Representatives of the Ministries of Finance and Industry and Trade, representatives of the Government Office and the National Economic Council of the Government (NERV) will take part. The group is scheduled to meet for the first time on March 21, when it will have available the latest data from the Czech Statistical Office (CSO) for February. “It's about fully and aggressively pursuing all the options we have within our legal powers if we find that there's something nefarious going on throughout the supply chain,” Nekula said.