In Business News this week: Confidence in the economy is up, not least in manufacturing and the automotive industry; the online giant Amazon will open two major warehouses in the Czech Republic, bringing up to 10,000 new jobs; controls reveal problems with imported poultry; Czech engineers will build a new brewery in Ethiopia; internet sales up by 15 percent year-on-year.
The leading Czech beer producer, Pilsner Urquell, has announced a slight increase in the prices of its bottled and canned beer on the domestic market. The Plzeň-based group says it will not raise the price of its world-famous brew sold in kegs and tanks, ostensibly to attract more people to pubs and restaurants. But experts say the move will do little to reverse the trend which has seen more and more Czechs having a beer at home rather than out on the town.
While many European leaders are concerned about healthcare costs related to smoking, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, opposes curbs on the habit. Indeed, on a visit to the country’s biggest cigarette factory on Wednesday, he made an unlikely recommendation with regard to starting to smoke. But an anti-smoking campaigner says his views have no place in the modern world.
During his visit to the cigarette producer Philip Morris’ Czech plant in Kutná Hora on Wednesday, President Zeman has criticized the EU’s anti-smoking efforts. The president said he considered the final version of the EU’s latest watered-down anti-tobacco legislation “relatively good” but added that any attempts to regulate smoking only increased illegal trade with cigarettes. Mr Zeman suggested people don’t start smoking before the age of 27 which is when he himself became a regular smoker; after that age, according to the Czech president, the human body is mature enough and immune to tobacco’s adverse health effects.
In the last two months, the prices of potatoes in the Czech Republic have gone up by two-thirds and more, compared to the same period last year. According to a report released by the Czech Statistics Office on Monday, prices will remain high this year due to a record low harvest. The total potato harvest this season will be 20.2 percent less than last year’s, while compared to the 10-year average, it will most likely be a third lower. For the first time in Czech history (since 1993), the total harvest will be lower than 600 thousand tones. A Czech resident on average eats 70 kilograms of potatoes a year. Adverse weather conditions have also resulted in lower potato harvests in neighboring Poland and Germany.
An American writer and journalist specialised in travel and food and drink (in particular beer), Evan Rail has been living in the Czech capital since the year 2000. For the last half decade, he’s called the city’s Petrské náměstí home; in this edition of My Prague, Rail shows me around his neighbourhood, which despite being only five minutes’ walk from Náměstí Republiky is still somewhat off the beaten path.
President Miloš Zeman is set to visit a Czech-based plant of the cigarette producer Philip Morris next week, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Friday. Mr Zeman was originally visit the TPCA car maker in Kolín during his visit to the Central Bohemian region, and asked for an opportunity to address its employees. However, the firm refused to halt production because of the visit. The president will instead visit the cigarette factory in nearby Kutná Hora. Mr Zeman is a chain-smoker and criticized the EU’s anti-tobacco measures during a visit to Brussels last month.
Due to bad weather, this year’s potato harvest in the Czech Republic will be lowest in decades, an association of potato growers said on Friday. Farmers expect to harvest around 550,000 tonnes of potatoes this year which is 20 percent less than in 2012. Poor harvest predictions have already doubled the prices of potatoes compared to last year.
In this week's Business News: the Czech national debt is down for first time since the 1990s; inflation levels continue a downward trend; the new Prague metro "D" line is approved; unemployment levels are up in September; Budvar declares victory over rival in Italy and former PM Vladimír Špidla says rosy Czech poverty data is misleading.
A recent survey of shopping habits by the KPMG agency suggests that organic food products have lost their initial attraction: shoppers find them too expensive and often question their superior quality. According to the results of the poll only 4 percent of Czechs buy organic food on a regular basis. 37 percent of respondents said they did so occasionally and approximately the same number of people said they had tried organic products in the past but no longer shopped for them. So are Czechs losing interest in organic food and should organic farmers
Over 1,000 skeletons discovered during renovation of Kutná Hora “bone church”
Why are Russian and Chinese spying activities in Czech Republic so intense and how exactly do they do it?
Prague’s historical Koh-i-noor factory to be converted into residential area
An Experiment in Vivisection: Czechoslovakia’s Second Republic 1938-1939
The history of the “German Czechs”