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April 1, 2008

MALAYSIA: Retailers label Dutch products in protest

Malaysian supermarkets have marked Dutch products with red labels in order to give consumers the option to boycott companies from the Netherlands.

Malaysian supermarkets have marked Dutch products with red labels in order to give consumers the option to boycott companies from the Netherlands.

This nationwide campaign was launched in protest to an anti-Islamic film made by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, the Associated Press reported.

The move comes after former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called for Muslims worldwide to boycott Dutch products.

“We must not be afraid of losing trade with them. If we do, then we won’t be thinking as Muslims, but more for our own self interests,” he said.

The news echos the 2006 Middle East boycott of goods from Denmark after a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed was printed in a newspaper in the country.

The publication of the cartoon had a devastating impact on the likes of dairy giant Arla Foods, whose sales in the Middle East plummeted.

Last month, after arrests were made in connection with a plot to kill the Danish cartoonist, several Danish newspapers reprinted the cartoons out of solidarity with the artist, which led to calls for a fresh boycott of Danish goods in Muslim countries.

Updating just-food on the situation, a spokesperson for the company said today (1 April) that the current round of boycotts faced by Arla differs from the 2006 protests because they are consumer-driven.  

“Our products are still available in most of the stores we are usually in. The boycott is not generated by supermarkets but by consumers, who are hesitant to buy Danish goods,” the company said.

Arla has cut production at its Bislev Dairy in Denmark by 150 tons per week because of falling Middle East orders but the company said it was unable to provide further information on how badly its results will be hit by the latest boycott.

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