Retailer attacks competitor's ads

  • 2003-03-20

VP Market, operator of the largest retail chain in Lithuania, has accused Palink, which runs IKI, the country's second-largest retail chain, of misleading advertising.

VP Market said in a statement on March 17 that it had filed a complaint with the country's competition authorities against IKI's recent advertisement campaign.

"Independent studies have confirmed that IKI always sells the freshest products," runs the IKI ad.

Ignas Staskevicius, CEO of VP Market, said the advertisement implied that independent experts had carried out studies involving all local retail food chains - or at least most of them - and had established that the chain of stores mentioned in the advertising were selling the freshest products.

VP Market said in its appeal, asking the market supervisory authority to have Palink cease the misleading advertisements.

Staskevicius said no independent experts had visited VP Market's stores.

Curiously, the IKI advertisement appeared in the Lithuanian mass media after the State Food and Veterinary Service had banned Palink, the operator of the IKI chain, to import fresh vegetables in late February.

The ban was lifted after Palink produced documents from a EU-certified Dutch laboratory verifying that sweet peppers imported by IKI complied with Lithuanian and EU quality requirements.

In late January, the state food service also imposed a temporary ban on VP Market's imported plant products as well. This measure was taken after establishing that the company had twice violated the procedure for importing foodstuffs.

According to the service's report, a 23-ton rice shipment from India, imported by VP Market, was found to contain myco-toxins that exceeded permissible levels.

A few days later, however, this decision was revised. The state food service lifted the ban on the import of all plant products after negotiations with VP Market, but the ban on cereal-crop import remained in place.