Austria: Uproar over 'Turkish' milk

Austria: Uproar over 'Turkish' milk

NÖM, an Austrian dairy headquartered in Baden (Lower Austria), is getting calls and protest mails and a boycott action is being organized against the company.

Three weeks ago the company started marketing milk cartons with Turkish on the packaging, mainly to 300 Turkish shops. The carton says "Süt" (Turkish) instead of "Milch" (German). The company wanted to appeal to the Turkish community, which buys large quantities of dairy products. NÖM spokesperson Maria Kitzler says that they wanted to avoid foreign competition, so it's good for jobs. The niche product is not offered in Austrian supermarkets. Kitzler adds that the milk is labeled on two sides in Turkish, and two sides in German.

NÖM chairman Alfred Berger says that the bilingual packaging is a service and that Turkish customers should also be able to read the detailed information. By offering Lower Austrian quality in Turkish supermarkets and fighting the foreign competition, they're marketing for Austria, not against it.

The issue has been a topic of discussion for days in Turkish-language newspapers, but only on Monday and Tuesday grew into a storm of protest. Similarly to the minaret discussion, some fear a threatening advance of Islam.

In Germany young immigrants are already seen as a future market. VW advertising in Turkish and Turkish deals on the Mercedes homepage don't cause a stir. Nestle and Haribo offer halal products. Immigrants have a lot of purchasing power, and the question is whether it remains in the country or not.

Kitzler says she doesn't understand the protests, since companies such as Haribo, Nestlé, and Ottakringer already sell to Turkish supermarkets.

The 240,000 Turks in Austria are estimated to buy about 2.5 billion worth a year and the market is growing. More and more companies want to cash in. Last year mobile operator 'drei' offered a package directed at young immigrants, with low rates to Turkish landlines.

The Austrian Automobile Association ÖAMTC has employees assigned to help immigrants, and they sometimes help deal with cultural differences. For example, says a spokesperson, many try to negotiate prices.

Immigrants are as market-conscious as Austrians, and cars and clothing are even more important status symbols, so it's just a matter of time before the first Turkish commercials.

Source: Kurier, Der Standard (German)