Estonian food products increasingly finding way to shoppers' carts

Cheese counter at Tallinn Central Market.
Cheese counter at Tallinn Central Market. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Although the past year has been characterized by major price increases, this has not proven a setback for sales of domestically produced Estonian food products. On the contrary, several supermarket chains are reporting growth in the sales of domestic products.

Prisma Peremarket procurement director Kaimo Niitaru told ERR that compared with the end of last year and beginning of this year, purchase volumes of Estonian products have grown.

He linked this with the chain's weekend deals, which mainly involve sales specifically on Estonian producers' products.

"We've also received a positive signal from producers that input prices for them haven't increased significantly, due to which product prices are stabilizing," Niitaru added.

Coop likewise announced this week that the sale of food of domestic origin is accounting for an increasing share of their turnover and has already reached more than 60 of their total volume.

This January, Coop Estonia's food sales volumes were up 1.8 percent on year; in February, that figure exceeded 7 percent.

"This marked the continuation of a robust trend dating back to last fall of the sales volumes of domestic food products eclipsing overall food sales," highlighted Coop Estonia CEO Rainer Rohtla.

"What's key is that this is not a financial, but a quantitative comparison, which excludes the effect of price increases and more precisely reflects what goods consumers are buying more or less of," he added.

Nonetheless, he noted that it's apparent that products marked down on their sell-by date have gotten increasingly popular, as have smaller packages.

Similarly to Prisma's representative, Rohtla likewise highlighted that the upward pressure on prices isn't as strong as it was last year. Some products have even gotten cheaper, including cheese, butter, baked goods and coffee.

There are yet other product groups, however, where input prices have skyrocketed.

Selver communications director Rivo Veski noted that the share of domestic Estonian food products has remained stable at their stores.

"Domestic food products, with the exception of alcohol, account fir 66 percent of Selver's entire range of products," he highlighted.

Veski noted that Coop's cited increases in sales volumes may be tied to increasing their product range, adding that a volume increase of nearly a tenth may also be explained by a sales campaign.

"We see no such numbers," he acknowledged. "Rather, we are seeing that Selver's concept, which has always prioritized Estonian goods, has justified itself in the price war against cheap import goods. The Estonian food customer base remains strong and stable."

Marge Kikas, director of the Sales Department at Maxima Eesti, said that many of their clients carefully monitor prices and always choose the cheaper alternative, which are often store-brand products.

"The share of Estonian products at Maxima stores varies by category," Kikas said. "We have been working for years to offer our customers the broadest possible selection of domestic food products, and thanks to good cooperation with Estonian producers, a significant share of dairy, meat and bakery products are of domestic origin."

She added that shelves are emptied more quickly than usual whenever there are sales and specials going on, at which point a good's country of origin no longer plays a role.

"Discounted goods of both Estonian and foreign origin are purchased equally," Kikas acknowledged. "Clients track prices and don't pass up specials."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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