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Lintilä: War in Ukraine could nearly double food prices in Finland

According to the economic affairs minister, Finns must brace themselves for wartime pricing.

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) appeared on the Yle current-affairs programme Ykkösaamu on Saturday. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

People in Finland must be prepared for wartime pricing of products and services, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) said in an Yle interview on Saturday.

He warned that the price tag for a standard basket of groceries could nearly double, partly due to knock-on effects from steep increases in fuel and fertiliser prices.

"The price of food will rise. If 11 percent of people's income now goes to food, it will rise to more than 20 percent," predicted Lintilä.

"We have a major challenge in that the agricultural situation is already critical. We need a support package for agriculture for the sake of food security," said Lintilä, whose Centre Party has traditional ties to the farmers' union.

On Friday the Bank of Finland downgraded its forecast for the Finnish economy due to the war in Ukraine.

No special subsidies for firms pulling out of Russia

Lintilä also said that the state does not plan to offer any exceptional subsidies to Finnish companies that have suffered losses by abandoning the Russian market. He pointed out that Russia has been known to be a country with high risks and expectations of high returns for many companies.

"Therefore, no specific business support is planned, in contrast to the coronavirus pandemic, which affected companies broadly," he said.

However, he said that government agencies would offer business advice, and that existing financial instruments such as the state export credit agency Finnvera, might be used to support companies.

Many Finnish firms, including Valio, Hesburger, Fazer and Paulig, have pulled out of the Russian market.

"Time-out" on climate targets

The minister said that the government must now take a "time-out" in regard to its climate targets in order to ensure Finland's security of energy supply.

For instance, he argued that domestic peat, which is being phased out due to its high emissions, will be needed to replace wood chips imported from Russia for heating.

The five-party centre-left government has set a target of climate neutrality for Finland by 2035.

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