RIGA - A commercial gaff erupted between Latvia and Lithuania when a leading grocer accused Latvia's largest confectionery of supplying worm-infested candies to a Vilnius store last week.
On Jan. 11, Lithuania's Food and Veterinary Service announced that analysis of a batch of sweets made by Laima, Latvia's largest confectionery, contain worm larvae.
The service ordered 80 kilograms of Serenada, a chocolate bar produced by Laima, pulled from the shelves of Rimi Lietuva, Lithuania's second largest retail operator.
It was the second announcement since the start of the month that spoiled food had been discovered at Rimi Lietuva's stores. In the first instance, an inspection revealed that a batch of grapefruits contained fruit fly larvae. The fruit, imported by the firm Logana, was immediately pulled from the stores.
Laima defended the quality of its product, saying the chocolates spoiled as a result of poor storage procedures at Rimi Lietuva's storehouses.
"Unfortunately, the path from producer to consumer is long, and the weak link remains employees inability to ensure proper storage and sale of the products," Juris Jonaitis, CEO of Laima, said in a statement.
The company said it found no shortcomings in the affected batch and was prepared to verify storage conditions in Lithuania.
According to reports, at the end of 2006 several people fell ill with salmonella after eating food purchased at Rimi Lietuva stores.
For Laima, the Serenade candies are the second commercial dispute with Lithuania in the past year. Last summer Javine, a Lithuanian pastry producer, accused Laima of stealing its slogan.
Laima had begun using the slogan "From the Bottom of Our Heart" to promote its chocolate and sweets in Lithuania, a phrase that was first used by Javine. Laima pulled the slogan in favor of "From Heart to Heart," but Javine was unimpressed and demanded 3,000 euros in compensation.
In 2005 Laima had sales of 23.8 million lats (33.9 million euros), up 19 percent year-on-year.
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The Riga Stock Exchange announced that it would soon list Laima and Staburadze, Latvia's other major chocolate producer.
The Financial and Capital Markets Commission registered the two companies' prospectuses on Dec. 22.
The two confectionaries are both majority owned by Iceland-based Nordic Partners.