The rapid increase in food prices in Estonia has impacted consumer behavior, with shoppers buying sweets and juice less often and eggs and butter more often than before. Retailers believe this change hints at a growing trend of home cooking and baking.
The retail sale of foodstuffs fell by 7 percent on year in October, and retail chain representatives confirm that shoppers have become markedly more selective.
Talis Raak, head of purchasing at Rimi, told ERR that the share of private-label brand — i.e. store brand — sales is growing much faster than before.
"Clients are swapping their favorite name-brand products for alternative private brand products," Raak said. "This is one of the things indicating to us that clients are more selective."
Both Selver and Rimi confirmed that the share of discounted products has increased considerably as well. Rimi recently started using markdown stickers on products whose expiration date was that same day, and according to Raak, these items are selling very well.
Selver communications manager Rivo Veski noted that at their stores, the share of discounted products in shoppers' carts had reached 45 percent already last month, marking an increase of nearly one third on year. Food inflation reached an all-year high of 28 percent in October as well.
"The average shopping cart increasingly contains staples as well as cheaper alternatives of [shoppers'] usual goods," Veski said. "Based on October indicators at Selver, we can say that clients preferred to buy more unprocessed chilled meat and dairy products at lower unit prices."
Pre-marinated, -seasoned and otherwise processed meat, fish and dairy products as well as prepared fruit and vegetables, meanwhile, saw a decrease in popularity.
Veski noted that one new trend evident in October was a downturn in the sales of sweets, snacks, juices and food supplements.
"For the first time this year, a slight downward trend has appeared in alcohol sales as well," he continued, adding that tobacco product sales nonetheless haven't slowed at all.
In the fourth and final quarter of 2022, the sales by volume of all major fresh food product segments have fallen below last year's levels. Based on overall sales figures for the year, the sales of fish, fruits and vegetables, ice cream, nuts and dried fruits have seen the biggest decrease.
Rimi has also noticed a reduced interest in prepared foods and a tendency to opt for goods that can be used as ingredients in home cooking. Shoppers are also cutting back on impulse purchases such as fancier cheese and sweets.
"But one thing's curious is what people aren't scrimping on — they've got to have holiday items like blood sausage and Christmas candy by hook or by crook," Raak highlighted.
He likewise cited the anomalous significant increase in butter sales. Supermarket employees have discussed that this could be due to the sharp increase in the price of various cakes, which has led to an increase in people baking at home.
Selver's egg sales hint at the same; despite the significant price pressure, the chain's egg sales volumes have nearly returned to last year's levels. Veski believes this is a clear indication that people are increasingly cooking at home. Nonetheless, breakfast cereals, muesli, convenience foods and meals in a jar are also selling well.
Editor: Aili Vahtla