People are increasingly seeking cheaper food products in supermarkets, with the relative importance of ready-to-eat foodstuffs and sweets falling, Talis Raak, head of purchasing for Rimi, told ERR.
"The way people buy food has definitely changed. People are taking a keener interest in what's on sale. Shoppers are also looking for cheaper alternatives in the same category. This has seen our private label sales rise." Raak said.
He said that people are buying less takeaway and are probably cooking more at home. While sales of minced meat and meat products have not grown, they have not fallen as much as other groups, with volumes on par with last year.
People also tend to drop products used to treat oneself, while sale of yoghurts and desserts is falling in the category of dairy products.
Because producers have hiked prices and competition between supermarket chains remains strong, prices cannot be hiked too much, the Rimi representative suggested, adding that cheaper products also usually sport lower markups.
"Energy price hikes are also having an effect, which have started growing again after we saw a more positive trend last month."
Raak said that price hikes have slowed in the last month, while some world market prices have also shown signs of stabilization. "But I would not dare predict what next year will bring. There is a calmer spell right now, while I would not say that prices have settled and calmed down."
Asked about Christmas shopping, Raak said that Rimi has "done surprisingly well" and it seems people are not keen to dial back there yet.
A Statistics Estonia overview published on Monday suggests the consumer price index was up 21.3 percent on year in November, with housing, food and non-alcoholic beverages price changes contributing the most at over 30 percent.
Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski