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Finnish booze imports surge on rise in trips to Estonia

The National Institute for Health and Welfare THL says that new data show a 14-percent increase in personal alcohol imports over a period of one year. THL researcher Thomas Karlsson says that an increase in trips to Estonia appears to have buoyed the rising booze imports.

Image: Sasha Silvala / Yle

The National Institute for Health and Welfare THL reported Monday that Finnish tourists imported 81.1 million litres of alcoholic beverages from abroad during the one-year period from September 2015 to September 2016, up 14.1 percent in the previous year.

The agency said that the imported represented a total of 8.7 million litres of 100-percent alcohol, and is some 15 percent more imports during a similar period one year earlier.

THL specialist researcher Thomas Karlsson said that trips to neighbouring Estonia increased by six percent since during the first six months or so of this year. He added that this was partly responsible for the surge in alcohol imports.

"The majority of alcohol is still brought in from Estonia, where it is significantly cheaper than here. We also know that more travelers are returning with alcohol and more are also bringing in larger quantities than before. So the increase in alcohol imports is the sum of many parts," Karlsson explained.

Foreign-brewed beer popular with passengers

Finnish residents appear to have taken an especial liking to foreign brews, the THL data show. Altogether 58.7 million litres of beer were brought into the country from abroad, an increase of 10 percent on the previous year.

According to the THL one striking finding was that travelers came back home with 14.0 million litres of long drinks over the one-year period, a whopping 43.8-percent increase over the interval. Conversely, cider imports fell slightly by 1.4 percent, reversing the previous year’s trend. Karlsson speculated that last year’s spike in cider purchases could have been caused by cruise lines’ on-board discount campaigns for the drinks.

Imports of spirits between September 2015 and the end of August this year bubbled up by 12.8 percent to reach 11.9 million litres. Passengers also seemed to have acquired a taste for hard liquor – they lugged back 8.8 million litres with them, an increase of 18.6 percent in one year.