Czech Food Inspections Reveal Shocking Price Gouging

According to the Minister of Agriculture Zdeněk Nekula (KDU-ČSL), the results of the Czech Trade Inspection (ČOI) and the State Agricultural and Food Inspection (SZPI) are dramatically worse than expected. He emphasized that inspections must continue.

In March, the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by up to 23.5% compared to the previous year, according to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ). Nekula previously announced that he would investigate the margins of traders. According to the minister, 250 joint inspections were to be carried out.

Nekula warned of “massive violations of food and consumer protection laws,” including “unfair business practices.” The head of the legal department of the Czech Trade Inspection, Vlastimil Turza, cited examples of where retailers had violated the law, most commonly by dishonesty in sales.

“In some cases, retailers charged higher prices at the checkout than the consumer was informed of the price tag. Many chains also violated the obligation to calculate the number of discounts from the lowest price in the last 30 days but calculated the discount from other amounts. In some cases, consumers were not informed of the price at all, meaning that there was no price tag on the goods,” Turza said.

According to Turza, fines will now be imposed for violating the law. Nekula also called on retailers to focus on primary sales conditions, hygiene, proper pricing, and to prevent rodent infestation to avoid the closure of stores by food inspectors.

Nekula said the pressure to lower food prices is beginning to yield concrete results, verifiable by ČSÚ data. He pointed out that the cost of eggs and butter has fallen and that the prices of other foods are also declining, even though they are not seasonal goods. He rejected the possibility of raising the price of regulated goods, such as milk, to counteract the price increase of unregulated goods.