Big “Potato Fraud” Exposed in Bulgaria
Large food chains and vegetable exchanges in Bulgaria sell German and French potatoes as Bulgarian production and thus mislead their customers, National Potato Growers Association alerted. They have submitted complaints to the National Revenue Agency, Consumer Protection Commission and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency with a request for inspection.
For several months now there has been a trend on both large exchanges and in the big chains to offer German and French potatoes with the label "Origin: Bulgaria", according to the statements of the President of the Association of Potato Growers Todor Djikov.
Potato producers can readily recognize their making. "Foreign potatoes look differently. We are professionals – growing potatoes is what we do. The average consumer may not make difference between potatoes produced in Germany and in Bulgaria or know their variety,” they say.
"Our warehouses are full. People hang on by fingernails. They don't have money. At the same time, support to farmers in Western countries appears to be stronger. Dumping is cruel," Todor Djikov commented on the "Before All" radio show.
Currently, potato producers in Germany, France and Belgium receive a minimum of EUR 100-150 per acre in additional support. The prime cost for them is lower because foreign producers have long been organized in large cooperatives, have huge packaging centers, workshops and machines.
German potatoes are offered at a price of 4-6 euro cents per kilo. Bulgarian producers offer their production for about 11 euro cents, Todor Djikov said.
"Let them buy cheaper German potatoes. We don't mind. But label them “German”. And sell them like German. The Bulgarian producer, who has decided to help us, should have a chance to choose the more expensive Bulgarian potato. To have the right to choose, not to be misled by buying the German potato, thinking that it helps a Bulgarian producer", Jikov is adamant.
According to him, certain market players use the well selling "made in Bulgaria" label as free advertising. The replacement is made by the supplier companies, which have packaging workshops, says Todor Djikov.
One problem leads to another – potato producers can not prove sales of their produce, which is the basis for their targeted support.
We are checking out all alarm signals received, confirmed to BNR the Consumer Protection Commission.
The Food Safety Agency reported that after the media publications they launched inspections on their own even before they received the official warning from the Potato Growers Association.
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