Customer with a shopping cart – illustration photo.
Prague – The Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic wants to ask the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition (ÚOHS) to investigate possible abuse of the market power of the German groups Schwarz and Rewe on the Czech market. Schwarz operates the Lidl and Kaufland retail chains in the Czech Republic, Rewe owns the Penny Market and Billa chains. The chamber says that, along with other retail chains, they control 75 percent of the market, giving them great bargaining power vis-à-vis food and agricultural companies. The Chamber informed about this in a press release today.
The Agrarian Chamber draws attention to the fact that both groups have sales in the Czech Republic in the order of tens of billions of CZK. According to the chamber, the economic power of the chains cannot be equaled by the approximately 60,000 crop growers and livestock breeders, and therefore foreign chains can dictate terms and determine what will be sold on the market. The reaction of the chains and ÚOHS ČTK is looking for.
Chamber president Jan Doležal stated that it is necessary to ask to what extent the Schwarz and Rewe groups can influence prices on the Czech market. “However, farmers, food producers and traders have various maneuvering options to project these costs into the prices at which they sell. Official statistics clearly show who succeeds and with what success. For a number of foodstuffs, such as sugar, poultry meat or apples, farmers they raised prices the slowest of all. That's why I unequivocally reject that Czech farmers make people's food more expensive,” he added.
The Chamber has previously drawn attention to the significant increase in the prices of certain foods in stores. For example, due to the high prices of sugar and eggs, the Minister of Agriculture Zdeněk Nekula (KDU-ČSL) also appealed to traders. According to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ), the price of one kilogram of granulated sugar on store shelves rose by 77 percent from September to December. The consumer price was more than CZK 30 in December, which, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, is also a historical maximum. The average price of industrial producers for one kilogram of sugar was CZK 13.17 last September. In December, a kilogram cost CZK 19.90, which is an increase of 51 percent.
The chamber also points out that around 950 enterprises with an average area of around 60 hectares are engaged in the cultivation of sugar beet. She also drew attention to the different growth in the prices of chickens in stores and the purchase prices of producers or the low purchase prices of apples that the chain imports from Poland. sales of CZK 73.2 billion and a profit of CZK 6.1 billion. In the same period, Kaufland had a turnover of CZK 64 billion and a profit of CZK 2.9 billion.
In 2021, according to the financial close, Penny Market had sales of goods of CZK 41.6 billion and a profit of CZK 944 million. In the same year, Billa had a profit of CZK 658 million and sales of goods of CZK 30.8 billion.
After the last meeting with Prime Minister Petra Fiala (ODS), the Agrarian and Food Chamber said that the government wants to check prices for farmers , food businesses and business chains. The aim is to find out the amount of the trade markup of individual sectors.