Under the National Food Product Support Programme, the main task of the Quality Food Administration Support Department of the State Agricultural Intervention Fund (SZIF) is to promote the good reputation of high-quality agricultural and food production on the national market and abroad with a view to guaranteeing the highest possible share of quality food products in overall sales of food products.
Accession to the European Union (EU) exposed internal market producers to new competitive pressures. They must also be able to resist the penetrative entrance of strong foreign companies relying on cost-intensive promotional campaigns. Conversely, the Czech Republic’s EU membership is making foreign markets increasingly accessible. In this light, sales of food products are more dependent on the promotion of food product quality, which is where the KLASA and Regionální potravina (regional food product) Support Department steps in.
Quality food product support focuses primarily on the organisation of sales promotions, including promotional campaigns and assistance with presentations at national and foreign exhibitions and trade fairs. The department also provides marketing consultancy and services, training in marketing, promotion and communication, mediates and disseminates information on foreign (particularly EU) legislation, and helps to raise funds for prospective projects.
Marketing support is available to all food producers able to prove the quality of their food products, as guaranteed by another instrument applied under the National Food Product Support Programme – the “KLASA” national food product quality mark. Food-industry products have been awarded this national food product quality mark by the Ministry of Agriculture since 2003. Products awarded the “KLASA” mark meet quality requirements and strict EU standards. This makes it easier for consumers to navigate their way through the quality of typical food products and facilitates the presentation of high-quality, safe and healthy food products.
The Czech National Food Product Support Programme is similar to the state and semi-state systems for the presentation and promotion of food production in EU Member States, EU candidate countries and elsewhere. It is an instrument in keeping with World Trade Organisation (WTO) mechanisms.
Effective marketing support for the quality food product market is designed to underpin the Czech Republic’s agriculture and food industry on the one hand, and the national economy and central government budget income on the other. Larger-scale food production and sales will meet the needs of the agricultural production sector, push up employment, especially in rural areas where hardship is commonplace, and feed into the downstream supply industry’s production requirements.
The “Regionální potravina” regional food product quality mark scheme aims to support small and medium-sized agricultural holdings and food producers and promote the consumption of local fresh food.
The “Regionální potravina” mark is awarded to local food producers and growers at regional agricultural competitions held in 13 regions of the Czech Republic (i.e. everywhere except Prague). To be awarded a regional food quality mark, an agricultural or food product must be produced in the region from food and feedstock typical for that region. An expert panel of judges selects one product per category (of which there are nine). Products receiving the award obtain a Minister for Agriculture certificate and the right to use the “Regionální potravina” quality mark for four years.
A nationwide campaign supports awareness of and information on the “Regionální potravina” food quality mark. This campaign aims to fuel market demand for high-quality regional food products and to encourage consumers to consider not only price, but also (and especially) the quality, freshness and origin of the food they buy. The campaign also centres on activities having a direct impact on sales of regional food products, with point-of-sale support and promotions.
Numerous European countries run local and regional food support projects. Long-term support of the quality and safety of food products appears to be highly effective economically as it helps to preserve traditional production, maintain and create new jobs, and generally increase the inflow of funds into regions.