Survey: Customers losing interest in domestic food products

Discounted cheese.
Discounted cheese. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Interest in buying domestic Estonian produce has fallen to its lowest in a decade, a new study by pollster Kantar Emor and the Estonian Food Industry Association shows. Customers are instead prioritizing lower prices and discounts.

The results show that 73 percent of Estonian residents prefer domestic foods.

"This is the lowest result in the last ten years – a year ago the preference was at 78 percent and in 2004, as well as in 2017 – at 90 percent," said Aivar Voog, Kantar Emor's research expert.

Voog said customers are also less certain about preferring domestic produce than they were. Last year, the number of shoppers who said they completely agreed with the statement "domestic food products are preferred when shopping" has fallen from 21 percent to 16 percent.

"A noticeable change in preference compared to a year ago has occurred among older and middle-aged people. In the under-35 age group, the preference for domestic food products fell quite significantly already in 2021," Voog added.

Aivar Voog. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The fall is particularly apparent among non-Estonians and people with lower incomes. In this group, the relationship between income and food preference has strengthened.

Two-thirds of consumers said they make impulsive purchases mainly due to discount offers and cheaper prices.

Sirje Potisepp, head of the Estonian Food Industry Association, said the choice of local products in most food groups has decreased compared to a year ago. Additionally, imported products were cheaper in almost half of the groups. However, domestic goods still account for over 50 percent of turnover and, in some areas, over 80 percent.

Purchases based on price alone are most likely when buying cheese and meat.

Decisions related to brands are mostly made in-store, the survey showed. The only exceptions were for broth and ketchup where customers had specific companies' products in mind before going to the supermarket. Shoppers were less fixed on brands of milk, cottage cheese, bread, flour, mince meat, and pancakes.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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