The outgoing week brought news that prices have gone up 7 percent in Estonia in the last year. ERR journalist Kai Vare compared prices in Tallinn and Helsinki and learned that Estonian prices have caught up to their northern counterparts.
The days when Finnish tourists came shopping for meat and cheese in Tallinn are over. It also no longer makes sense for Estonians commuting to work in Finland to bring food with them. Some everyday foodstuffs are already more expensive in Estonia than in Finland.
I looked at prices in a Maxima supermarket in Estonia and a Finnish Lidl. For example, a liter of milk costs 69 cents in Finland and 79 cents in Estonia.
A kilogram of butter costs around €6 euros in Finland and around €9 in Estonia. Two kilos of wheat flour goes for 79 cents in Finland and €1.29 in Estonia.
Cheap cheese cost €4.39 per kilo in Finland, while I could not find cheese for that little in Estonia – even brands that were on sale cost over €5 per kilo. The flour and cheese I included in my comparison in Finland were both Estonian-made.
Therefore, milk, eggs, butter, flour and cheese are cheaper in Finland than in Estonia.
However, vegetables cost more in Finland. A kilo of unpacked tomatoes went for €2.79 in Finland and €1.29 in Estonia. The difference is less for potatoes, with a kilo costing 59 cents in Finland and 45 cents in Estonia.
Chicken filet costs a little under €9 per kilo in both countries.
Ham and cheese are sold in larger packages in Finland, which probably has an effect on prices.
While alcohol is hardly a daily foodstuff, its price in Finland has always interested Estonians. The price difference has also shrunk in this area. A bottle of wine costs almost the same in Finland as it does in Estonia, while strong alcohol, beer and cider are still more costly across the gulf. Half a liter of A. Le Coq Aleksander beer costs a little over €1 in Estonia but €3 in Finland.
The list is far from complete, while it is a clear indicator that Estonian prices have caught up to Finnish ones.
It is still notably more expensive to rent real estate in Finland, at least in and around the capital, while Finland also has more generous housing benefits.
Motor fuel costs around 20 cents per liter more in Finland than Estonia.
It is difficult to compare the salary level because of different tax systems. The average salary before taxes is around €1,600 in Estonia and €3,500 in Finland.
Lidl opened its first Latvian stores this week, which brought news of a price war. Lidl has been active in Finland since 2002. A lot of brands offered by the German chain were new to the Finns and did not inspire trust at first. The chain lured customers with cheap beer that was unheard of in Finland. It took roughly a decade for the Finns to warm up to the company. Lidl currently has around 10 percent of the Finnish market.
Major Finnish supermarket chains K-Group and S-Group have survived and consider a wide selection as their forte. Lidl is still emphasizing its low prices, while data from the Pellervo Economic Research Institute suggests price differences are increasingly minute. The price of food has also gone up in Finland.
Norwegian chain Oda will be the next major entry to the Finnish market. Oda is an online grocery store. Buying groceries online is only taking baby steps in Finland, and it is to be believed that the Norwegians will deliver a shock as serious as Lidl was back in the day.
Editor: Marcus Turovski