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Study: Supermarket share of Estonian-produced products fell slightly in 2023

A selection of fruit juices on sale in an Estonian supermarket.
A selection of fruit juices on sale in an Estonian supermarket. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The share of Estonian-produced food and drink products fell slightly this year, according to a recent survey by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research (EKI), spelling a concomitant rise in foreign-produced imports.

The main factor is inflation, with customers preferring lower prices to patriotism in many cases.

Additionally, input cost inflation has affected Estonia even more than it has the retail sector in neighboring countries, one expert says.

Peeter Raudsepp, EKI director, told ERR that: "The rise in imported goods in the overall product selection results from consumer price sensitivity. Since food prices have risen at such a rapid pace, they have been looking to cheaper foodstuffs, which tend to be imported products."

The market share of ordinary domestic products within the overall product selection totaled 59 percent in 2023, one percentage point down on 2022's total.

The EKI survey was completed in September this year.

Through 2023 to that point, local products as a proportion of total selection fell on year in 11 out of 24 groups.

The survey took into consideration several major supermarket retailers in Estonia.

Bread saw the largest drop – market share here fell on average per store in the case of 10 Estonian brands.

The figures for domestically-produced beef was a fall in share for eight brands, five with sausage and with ice cream, and three when it comes to smoked meat, cookies and also vodka.

Spreading cheese and fish, on average, saw a market share fall for two brands; one per store was seen for oatmeal, and for pickles.

Beef, with a fall of 35 percentage points, was the category which saw the largest fall, while canned meat (by 12 percentage points) and smoked meat (five percentage points).

Conversely, in 2023, the position of Estonian food products improved compared across 11 product groups.

These were: Fruit juice (by 11 percentage points), poultry (9 percentage points), yogurt, cooking oil and cheese (all 7 percentage points).

Despite the fall relating to some products, domestically produced products still prevailed over imported ones in 17 out of 24 categories – a figure unchanged on last year.

The selection of local products rose in nine out of the 24 groups (namely milk, cheese, yogurt, curds,* cooking oil, poultry, smoked sausage, beers and fruit juices).

The selection of imported products meanwhile rose in seven product groups (milk, beef, canned meat, boiled sausage, smoked meat, cookies and, again, beers).

The share of imported goods was largest in the edible oils (87 percent) and cookies (82 percent).

Among imported products, canned meat and smoked meat (five products) saw the largest rise, followed by beef (four), beers (three), milk (two) and boiled sausage, along with cookies, was a category which saw a rise by one product per store on average

Among imported products, the selection fell the most in the categories of ice cream (11 products), yogurt (seven) and juice (seven), across a total of 13 product groups.

This should also be seen in the context of store buyers picking only the most preferred brands, thus reducing the overall brand selection, during tighter economic conditions.

There were 136 varieties of fruit juice (65 domestically produced and 71 imported), 132 types of cookies (24 Estonian-made and 108 imported), 128 varieties of yogurt (93 domestic and 35 imported), and as many as 111 types of vodka (36 domestically made and 76 imported from outside).

The assortment of domestic and imported beer was the widest in Coop and Selver. The assortment of domestic beer remained at the same level in all store chains.

The product range of domestically produced fruit juices rose by 19 items on average per store, yogurt by 12 items, cheese by nine, smoked sausages by eight, curds by five, cooking oil by four, poultry by three, and milk and beer by one product.

The share of domestic products by selection was the largest in the product categories of boiled sausage(93 percent), smoked meat (87 percent), bread (84 percent) and smoked sausage (83 percent).

The widest range of product types was found in beers, with 297 per supermarket, on average. Of these, 161 were domestic, and 136 imported.

By specific chain, Coop and Selver have both seen a rise in imported beers selection, while Rimi has seen a fall.

The selection of domestically made cookies was the broadest in Selver and Coop, and the narrowest in Maxima and Rimi; conversely in Rimi, the assortment of imported cookies on sale was the widest of all supermarkets, and had risen over the past year, though it had fallen slightly in Selver outlets.

The selection of domestically produced fruit juice has grown in Coop, Rimi and Maxima, while the selection of imported juices has fallen slightly in Coop, Rimi and Maxima, but increased somewhat in Selver.

Estonian-produced yogurts have increased in range in Coop and Selver, while the selection of imported yogurt fell in Coop, and slightly at Maxima stores.

The range of domestically made vodkas fell slightly in Rimi and Maxima, and the range of imported vodkas fell somewhat in Selver, Maxima and Rimi stores.

The EKI's Peeter Raudespp said Estonia is in a more difficult situation economically, compared with neighboring countries. "Estonia's economic indicators have deteriorated at a faster pace," he said.

"The rise in prices of production inputs has affected the prices more strongly than it has for our neighbors, for example when it comes to the price of electricity," Raudsepp went on.

Over the past three years, selections of of domestic cheese, yogurt, cooking oil, poultry, smoked sausages, wheat flour, juice, beer, canned cucumbers and fish have grown while domestic spread cheese, ice cream, beef, pork, boiled sausages, smoked meat, the assortment of bread, cookies and vodka have fallen.

Compared with the situation three years ago, product ranges of imported milk, cheese, yogurt, curds, beef, pork and boiled sausages have grown, while for ice cream, cooking oil, poultry, canned meat, smoked sausages, smoked meat, bread, wheat flour, cookies, oatmeal , juice, beer and vodka there has been a fall in choice.

The EKI site is here.

*Curds, kohupiim in Estonian, have a much broader application than in some other countries. It is a common ingredient of cakes, while chocolate-covered, flavored curd bars are a favorite snack among children and some adults.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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