Less interest in Estonian foods due to high price, many loyal buyers remain

Central market in Tallinn.
Central market in Tallinn.

Domestic goods are often left out of shopping bags due of their high prices. Even though Estonians prefer domestic products, there are few new clients. As a result, local producers are altering their business models to focus on the export of raw foods, while some organic farms may convert to conventional agriculture.

Estonian produce has lost its appeal on store shelves due to the availability of imported equivalents that are up to 50 percent cheaper.

"People now prefer lower-cost items, and their sales are clearly increasing.
The cheapest option in several product categories are imported product.
This explains why there is less interest in Estonian product lines," Talis Raak, Rimi's head of purchasing, said.

Many local businesses are forced to change their business models as food production has become more expensive and customers do not agree with pricing.

"External demand for milk is high. This one milk producer, who made his own cheese a year ago, claims that the Estonian consumer cannot afford such a high price for cheese, so it is more profitable for him to sell the milk as a raw product instead," Kalle Hamburg, president of the Estonian Farmers' Federation (ETKL), said.

In addition, many organic farms are expected to shift to conventional agriculture in the near future.

Estonian goods are doing better in farm shops and markets. However, sellers say the situation is nevertheless bleak as there are very few new customers.

Regular customers, however, that account for 70-80 percent of all buyers, are keeping their noses to the grindstone at the farmers' market.

"The loyal customer is the most important for us. The one you can count on, the one you make orders for, the one you actually know, what and when they are going to buy," Merle Vall, the head of Taluturg, said.

Despite the high pricing, customers also purchase Estonian products at the Baltic station market.

"Eggs have become expensive. /.../ But you're still better off with an Estonian egg," Ulvi said.

"I haven't looked at the price at the moment. It has probably gone up. /.../ Probably some day it's going to go down, but you still have to eat," Ingmar said.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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