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Multinationals ‘con and deceive,’ claims minister

Drinks

jessica fejos

Hungary’s Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas said this morning during a press conference that multinationals in Hungary “con and deceive Hungarian customers,” a practice he described as “outrageous,” citing a recent investigation by food safety authority Nébih. This follows an earlier Nébih report that a trade association rejected as “subjective.”

Nébih probed almost 100 products, the minister said, and in 70% of cases the products sold in Hungary were found to be of “lower quality” than identical products sold abroad, according to Hungarian online news portal index.hu. The minister said the latest probe “confirmed earlier assumptions that multinationals bring inferior products to Hungary.”

Fazekas said that Nébih’s latest report showed that in many cases, Hungarian-sold products contained more flavor boosters, fewer nutrients and cheaper ingredients, according to index.hu. 

Index.hu noted that the ministry has issued a booklet containing the differences found by Nébih. The authority mentions perceived differences such as Hungarian Korányi cinnamon being darker than its Austrian equivalent, Dr. Oetker’s vanilla sugar more “yellowish,” and Milka chocolate bars a bit darker in Austria with smaller pieces. Index.hu added that in the case of some beer types, the only Nébih explanation was that the beer sold here was of “worse quality.”

The topic of multinationals bringing “rubbish” to Hungary appeared on the local political landscape last year, when Cabinet Chief János Lázár said he would be “content to chase multinationals away” from Hungary as these companies “haul Europe’s rubbish” into the country, and suggested that it would be best if foreign food retail chains left.

In Mid-February, Lázár urged a probe to be launched after a Nébih report said identically branded products in Hungary offered by multinationals are of “lower quality” than in Austria. In a statement sent to the Budapest Business Journal, the Hungarian Brand Association, the interest representation organization for the Hungarian FMCG sector, rejected the report as “subjective.”

Soon after this, Fazekas was reported to have ordered Nébih to conduct an inspection comparing the quality of identically branded products available at domestic and foreign retail stores to reveal if there are any differences.

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