Labor shortages, heatwave could push up fruit and vegetable preserve prices ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Jars of Estonian produce (photo is illustrative).
Jars of Estonian produce (photo is illustrative). Source: Oleg Hartšenko

Labor shortages in the agricultural sector are causing worries for makers of Estonia's fruit and vegetable preserves and may mean higher prices in the stores.

Salvest, which produces preserves made from berries, received produce from Estonia, for instance from Saaremaa-based Saarek, though it also gets its raw materials from other countries, it says.

The company's CEO Triin Kõrgmaa told ERR's online news in Estonia that it prefers to use domestic produce, but small volumes even in normal seasons does not mean it can solely rely on Estonian suppliers.

"We source about two thirds of our raw materials from Estonia," Kõrgmaa said, adding that this approach was not confined to berries but also meat, dairy and cereal suppliers.

Both Salvest and another producer, Põltsamaa, say they get their cucumbers, also used in preserves, from Estonia, something which both the labor shortage and the recent heat wave, which hastens ripening times, threaten the harvest this year.

At the same time, both companies, get berries used for making jams from outside Estonia, so this year's labor shortage – caused in part by fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and changes to the law governing workers from third (i.e. non-EU) countries like Ukraine – has not affected those product lines so much, the companies say.

This is particularly the case with organic raw materials, which Kõrgmaa said Salvest mostly sources from outside Estonia, with the exception of blackcurrants, which can be obtained here.

Põltsamaa says it gets its raw materials for its jam from some of the Scandinavian countries, via its parent company, Orkla.

Kaido Kaare, board chair at Orkla Eesti, said that the company needs around 2,000 tons of cucumbers this year; the labor shortage could have one of two outcomes here – either lower production volumes, or higher prices, or both.

Triin Kõrgmaa agreed that prices of end products - jars of preserves and similar - were likely to be higher with cucumber, berry and other summer produce-based goods, though demand would remain the same, she said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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