bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 18.12.2017 | Name days: Klinta, Kristaps, Kristofers, Krists
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuanian meat producer’s decision to ditch «Soviet» sausage brand stirs uproar in Russia

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULinas Jegelevičius for the BNN

How to express your disapproval with the Russian President if you are a sausage maker in Lithuania? Make sure you scrap the name of the sausage brand that still sends to many shivers down the spine- «Soviet». 

That is exactly what JSC Samsonas, a Lithuanian meat producer, did but the decision has stirred anti-Lithuanian uproar in Russia. Alfredas Rimidis, the company’s owner, admits the decision is partly his response to «the geopolitical climate» in the world.

Russian media vexed

«We have not come up with the decision all of a sudden. Two years ago, we carried out a market research which showed that the «Soviet» brand was associated with the company, Samsonas, and the quality of our products. We concluded that we could use Samsonas brand for all of our products. And now the current geopolitical circumstances prompt do it; besides we feel it’s our civic duty to drop the word «Soviet». We do not wish this to be made into a political issue, escalate things while people are suffering. We do not wish for it to become a PR thing,» the company head said.

But the news is out there with Russian media painfully «chewing» it.

The story quickly picked up and circulated by some major Russian media outlets pours is being politically tinged in the Russian news.

RIA Novosti, for example, ran the story under the vitriolic headline «Lithuania defeats «Soviet» sausages».

The Russian news agency considers there must definitely be a connection between the rebranding and the recent visit of the Ukrainian Culture minister in Lithuania.

«Patriotically-minded Lithuanians, elated by praise delivered by their Ukrainian buddies, decided on the occasion to surprise their high-ranking guests from Ukraine. They will teach the Ukrainians how to conclusively and irreversibly defeat the «soviet past». They need to blot out from the subconsciousness of their compatriots not just the images of former leaders, but also the flavours of Soviet products that have been on the shelves for many years and that are known for  their preservatives and emulsifiers-less make-up… The next thing that the Lithuanians are probably will go after is condensed milk with white-blue label called «Nostalgia», RIA Novosti sneered.

Addressing the «sausage topic», Novoje Izvestiya put out a story «Anti-Soviet Baltic republic.»

Another Russian online site, Argumenty i Fakty, also pointed out to «geopolitical reasons» behind the rebranding.

Rebranding is slated for December

The meat producer plans start relabeling the meat products in December.

«Virtually, nothing else will change, except the name of the brand. The packaging design will remain the same, except the word,» assured Rimidis.

According to data released by the market research company Nielsen last year, «Soviet» is the number-eight brand in Lithuania’s food market.

The popularity of the brand besides the good quality can be explained with a flare-up of emotions that the word «Soviet» stokes.

«The name, obviously, for some raises nostalgia, while to others evokes indignation. But eventually, with the current buyers, the bulk of which are respectable-age seniors, disappearing, the name of the brand will die out. For youth, the name does not already spark any memories of that era animation and does not signify preservatives-less meat products,» a market research expert told BNN.

Meat producer changed tunes

The contended sausage name had already triggered scandals in Lithuania in the past.

When on January 13, last year, with Lithuania commemorating the remembrance of the victims of the January 13, 1991 Soviet troops-led massacre at the Lithuanian TV Tower, a major supermarket chain offered a 100% discount for «Soviet» sausages if buying two or more pieces, a Lithuanian parliamentarian snapped off, calling the sell-off «a sabotage».

«That is not the Lithuania we had fought for …While awaiting the New Year (2013), three major private TV stations invited to watch an old good Soviet film, and then, during the Freedom Defenders’ Day, we were offered to buy the heavily discounted «Soviet» sausages…The sticker bearing words «Beloved Stalin is happiness of the nation» is still available at the Kremlin, as far as I know…Perhaps the Russians are still happy about that and being introduced to the world that way… But with the meat products, we alike are being introduced that way to the world, nation and our youth», Kestutis Masiulis, the MP, noted last year after January 13.

After the stir over the discounted sausages on the memorable day broke out he appealed in a letter to Samsonas management, asking it to scrap the name from the labels and choose another that «would not bring about historic, criminal and honor connotations…».

But Rimidis, the Samson’s head, was defiant then and refused last year to blot out the name, arguing that grievance from the Soviet times had nothing to do with the era’s sausage makers.

«The grievances were not inflicted by those who during the period were making sausages and other products. They were caused by the-then functionaries, perhaps the same ones that still now cling on power. Maybe some of the politicians need popularity: they definitely see that «Soviet» sausages are trendy, so perhaps they believe they can propel their popularity if they get hitched on it » Rimidis reasoned last year.

PR thing or sincere decision?

Speaking to BNN, the MP insisted he was «very happy» that «Soviet» brand meats will not be seen around in Lithuanian supermarkets.

«It was high time to do so (remove the label) long time ago. I urged the brand owner to scrap the name a while ago, but he wouldn’t listen to me then. I just cannot grasp why the Russians got so upset about it now with the decision in the news,» Masiulis told.

He confessed not to have tried out «a bit» of «Soviet» brand meats since the restoration of independence.

«Just seeing the tags on shelves is a real turn-off to me, I mean from the gastronomical point of view. I’ve had enough of the sausages during the Soviet years,» confided the parliamentarian.

But Samsonas management seems visibly fretted over the buzz and shied away from any comments.

«The news was not supposed to come out this time. The decision to discontinue using the name kicks in only in December. I’m not entitled to comment on what part of our production used to go to Russia before the sanctions,» Violeta Kasetiene, Samson Commercial Director, told BNN.

Rimidis, the Director, could not be reached for the story.

The look-up of the company on the Web turns up trickles of information on possible on-time-bill-settling issues the company seems deals with.

«If it is a case, the uproar singling out the company in the market could be a well thought-out PR campaign. Who could deny it? Many customers are likely to look for Samson production at supermarkets for now, at least for a couple weeks», the afore-quoted PR specialist reasoned.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.1840


Leave a reply

  1. Linda says:

    why should Russia care so much about a sausage label after all haven’t the Russian government banned imports from EU countries! Can’t have it both ways. I think it should be relabelled with the some ancient Lithuanian prince’s name.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Merkel seeks to overcome German political deadlock by mid-January

German leader Angela Merkel has stated she wishes to finish exploratory talks on a possible coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats by mid-January to end Germany’s political deadlock not being solved since the September parliamentary election.

Latvia’s inflation level was fourth highest in EU in November

November’s inflation in Latvia was fourth highest among member states of the European Union, according to Eurostat data published on Monday, 18 December.

Leader of Latvian Association of Regions announces his departure

On Monday, 18 December, Riga City Council member Mārtiņš Bondars announced his decision to leave Latvian Association of Region (LAR). The politician had previously mentioned that LAR’s recent decisions seem unreasonable and unbeneficial to state interests.

Ventspils opposition member: list of Lembergs’ committed crimes continues expanding

«During his rule in Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs performed so many illegal and criminal acts that investigation and judicial institutions still haven’t sorted things out,» said Ventspils City Council opposition member Valdis Kristovskis in an interview to BNN.

Traders association: cigarette contraband will increase dramatically

Latvian Traders Association is worried – by reducing availability of tobacco products in stores and other trade locations, the proportion of products sold ‘under the radar’ will only increase. And this is basically what amendments to the Law on Tobacco Products Circulation.

Problems in higher education funding cause concerns for education quality

There can be no certainty about the progression of Latvia’s higher education towards excellence, because no ambitious goals have been set up for its development so far, as concluded by State Audit after performing an assessment of the country’s education funding system.

Terrorism, not Russia considered larger threat in Estonia

Estonians believe terrorism is a larger threat to security than Russia's actions, stated Estonian Defence Minister Jüri Luik at the Tallinn’s International Centre for Defence and Security.

Digital TV case: trail from Malta leads all the way to Šķēle’s «clouds»

Malta files or the leaked materials from Malta’s Registry of Companies show that changes have been added to the ownership structure in Digital International Limited (DIL), which is involved in the so-called digital television lawsuit. The current owner of the company is an Estonian company, which had once owned properties of ex-Prime Minister of Latvia Andris Šķēle’s family, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.

Austrian anti-immigration party to care for interior, defence and foreign affairs

National-conservative Austrian Freedom Party, which unlike other parties in power in Western Europe is clearly against immigration, is to take significant ministerial duties in the country’s new government.

Liepājas metalurgs may restart production in February 2018

Liepājas metalurgs may restart production in February 2018, said potentially insolvent KVV Liepājas metalurgs’ investor, said Israeli-based businessman Igor Shamis in an interview to LNT Top 10 News.

Ryanair pilots in talks not to strike before Christmas

Pilots of popular airline Ryanair have suspended plans to hold a day-long strike before Christmas after the Irish company agreed to recognise pilot trade unions for the first time.

Weather in Latvia to be cold and snowy this week

Atmospheric pressure will rise at the beginning of the week. Because of that, no precipitation is expected. Wind speed will be low and mist will remain in certain regions. On Tuesday, 19 December, a low atmospheric pressure area will pass through the country, bringing some rain, snow and wet snow, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian doctors to offer voluntary test on alcohol habits

Lithuania's Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga has drafted a new scheme for residents attending health care institutions to fill out tests that would reveal whether the person's drinking habits signal a possible addiction.

Citadele Index: businessmen are more optimistic about economic growth

After a four-year gap, optimism has been noticed in all of Latvia’s business sectors. For the third consecutive quarter Citadele Index value exceeds 50 points. Businessmen are also positive about the country’s economy and their own finances, according to the final Citadele Index study for 2017.

Bank of Latvia increases GDP growth outlook to 4.7% for 2017

Bank of Latvia has decided in increase gross domestic product growth outlook from 4.2% to 4.7% for 2017, as reported by the bank’s governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs.

Latvian residents’ opinion of government’s work remains negative

Latvian residents voiced the biggest degree of dissatisfaction about the development of the situation in Latvia and the work performed by the government. Although the previous evaluation of government’s work had increased by four points, it has since declined by two points, according to data from Baltic International Bank’s Latvian Barometer.

Eel fishing to be restricted in Baltic Sea for three months

European Union Fisheries Council has decided to restrict eel fishing for three months in 2018 in all waters, including the Baltic Sea. Although the World Wide Fund for Nature and environmental organization in Europe view it as a notable first step, these efforts are unlikely to have a major impact on the most important problem – eel population continues declining rapidly, as noted by WWF.

LCCI: increase of electricity bills for thousands of companies in unacceptable

Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) categorically opposes increasing electricity bills for the majority of small and medium-sized companies due to mandatory procurement component’s differentiation. The organization believes that this would basically introduce a new additional tax, making them even less competitive.

Head of Latvian Association of Regions to spend Christmas thinking on remaining in the party

Dissatisfied with multiple decisions made by Latvian Association of Regions (LAR), Riga City Council member Mārtiņš Bondars will spend the holiday thinking about his place in this political party, as he mentioned in his interview to Rīta panorama or LTV.

Estonian fund permitted to purchase several Latvia energy production companies

Latvian Competition Council has permitted Estonian fund to purchase several energy production and agricultural companies.

Meat processing giant sees room for growth in ready-to-eat foods

Consumption in the meat market segment of ready-to-eat foods is growing quickly, evaluated Finnish meat processing group HKScan that is planning to invest eight million euros in its factory in Estonia.

To fight for national minority schools, Russian representatives promise to hold a referendum

Defenders of Russian schools in Latvia promise to organize a referendum for autonomy of national minority schools, said co-chairman of Latvian Russians Association Miroslavs Mitrofanovs in regards to the transition to education only in Latvian language.

Tax payment process from capital growth to change in Latvia

As part of the tax reform, changes will be added to the Personal Income Tax Law starting from 1 January 2018. One of the changes is associated with payment and declaration of income from capital growth. The tax rate and the term for submission of declarations on income from capital growth will change next year.

Tusk deems EU migrant quotas ineffective as some states oppose taking in migrants

Donald Tusk, the head of the Council of the European Union and chairman of this week's EU summit, has evaluated that mandatory EU-wide quotas are ineffective and that there is a split between east and west as regards asylum policy.

Riga City Council’s 2018 budget – poorly planned or well-developed?

As the vote for the 2018 budget of Riga City Council draws near, representatives of all opposition parties say they will not support it as long as politicians of the ruling coalition continue viewing the city’s most important financial document as good and aimed at development.