Estonians consuming increasing amounts of imported meat

Meat for sale in an Estonian store.
Meat for sale in an Estonian store. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Estonian meat producers are concerned that more and more of the meat consumed in the country comes from abroad. The Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce is hoping that a planned amendment to the law, which would oblige restaurants to indicate the origin of the meat the sell, will help.

While in 2014, 90 percent of the meat consumed in Estonia in was of Estonian origin, by 2022 this had fallen to 77 percent.

"The concern is not that Estonians are eating less [meat], but that we have fewer producers, fewer farmers. There is nothing we can do, the price of imported meat is just so much cheaper," said Meeli Lindsaar, head of food at the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce.

According to Statistics Estonia, meat consumption in Estonia has increased by just under 15,000 tonnes in eight years, while meat imports have risen by 22,000 tonnes over the same period.

"More imported meat is simply going into ready-made products," Lindsaar said.

In the case of ready-made products customers are often unsure whether they are choosing domestic products as there is usually no indication of where the meat originally comes from. The increase in meat imports is a concern for local meat producers and takes tax revenue away from Estonia, Lindsaar said.

There is also the fact that while the environmental impact of meat produced in Estonia can be monitored, it is much less clear when it comes to imports.

"Now that we are importing more of this meat, we assume that the other country will have better environmental standards, that they will keep their animals in good conditions, take care of the animals, and reduce water consumption. However, we don't actually know that," Lindsaar said.

Lindsaae believes that a planned amendment to the law by the Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture, which would oblige restaurants to indicate where meat comes from, could help.

The ministry told ERR's that a draft would be presented in the first half of next year, however, its precise content is not yet certain


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Editor: Michael Cole

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