When buying Lithuanian, look for the best

  • 1999-01-07
  • Paul Beckman
VILNIUS - Many people reserve the last few weeks of December to take one last glance back at the highs and lows of the passing year. For a second year in a row, the Lithuanian Industrialists Confederation has displayed the same spirit by organizing a competition to determine the best Lithuanian products of the year.

After accepting entries from more than 80 companies and building up sufficient fanfare, the best products of Lithuania were revealed in late December. A total of 55 products out of over 150 came away with shiny gold medals in ten different categories including food products, light industry, construction industry and electronics.

Pramekspo, an advertising and exhibition company, also lent a hand in organizing the competition. General Director Sigitas Aukskalnis explained the judging of the products was a task not taken lightly.

"We have a serious commission consisting of specialists from different companies and even scientists," said Aukskalnis. "This is not an advertising show but a real contest. Quality is very important."

The overall winner was Svyterys' Baltijos Extra beer. The beer, produced in the coastal city of Klaipeda, received the honor for a second straight year.

Other producers of consumer goods, which walked away with awards for a second time, included the bread company Nemuno Krastas, the alcoholic-beverage firm Stumbras, and candy maker Naujoji Ruta.

Bronislovas Lubys, president of the Lithuanian Industrialists Confederation, hinted that many people tend to associate Lithuanian products with food. He said the competition revealed that domestic products in other spheres can cut the mustard as well.

"It should be noted that food products make up only one-third of all product-winners of the contest," said Lubys. "This proves once again that Lithuania is not a country which mostly processes and exports agricultural products. This contest obviously demonstrated that our industry is producing high-quality and environmentally-friendly products able to compete not only in domestic markets but also abroad."

Heavyweights like refrigerator manufacturer Snaige and clothing maker Nijole, among others, again snagged awards to back up Lubys argument.

Government Plot

Selecting the cream of Lithuania's domestic crop was not merely organized for light-hearted entertainment.

According to Lithuanian Economic Vice Minister Antanas Bartulis, the government is spending 4.5 million litas ($1.12 million) to organize a national quality system program.

The government hopes this program, in combination with events such as the best Lithuanian products competition, will bring more domestic and international attention to Lithuanian made products.

"Contests and the quality system program are part of a government policy to initiate economic reform, reconstruction and competition," Bartulis said.