Cheap Foreign Produce Crippling Estonian Veg Industry, Says Horticultural Association ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: ERR

Cheaper imported vegetables are making it hard for Estonian-grown produce to make it to shops during the current high season, the Estonian Horticultural Association said.

The problem was pointed up last week by Intsu farm, one of the nation's largest tomato farms, when they handed out tons of vegetables for free after failing to find a retailer to sell their produce, ETV  reported on Monday.

“Maybe retailers should take note that the high season for Estonian vegetables and fruit is now, and lower profit margins accordingly, so that customers could afford local food,” said Raimond Strastin, who heads the association.

According to Annika Vilu, a spokeswoman for the Selver supermarket chain, they impose the same profit margins on all similar products and lower them when more people buy a product.

“Many components make up the final price of a product, and to look at just one factor and ask why the price is high would not be fair, people should look at the bigger picture,” Kadri Lainas of Prisma said.

“We analyze our base costs and they are not very high compared to world levels, but definitely higher than in the Netherlands or Poland. Heating is needed for storage of vegetables in Estonia and heating is very expensive. That is the reason why locally grown food is more expensive in winter,” head of Sagro horticulture company Madis Kahu said, adding that the local climate, lower levels of subsidies and smaller quantities also have a negative effect on prices.