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Bad weather in southern Europe hikes domestic vegetable prices

The price increase in vegetables imported from Europe is set to continue for the foreseeable future, food conglomerate chiefs say.

Tomaatteja kaupan vihannestiskillä.
Tomayto, tomahto: Fresh greens from abroad cost more in Finland this spring. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

Particularly poor weather in Spain and other southern European countries has caused a shortage of imported vegetables in Finland, leading to higher consumer prices in S- and K-Group shop chains.

Low temperatures, hard rains and even snowbound farmland have hit farmers hard, says S-Group produce range chief Antti Oksa.

"The markets always work based on supply and demand," Oksa explains. "When there's less to sell abroad, prices go up. The effect has reached Finland, as well."

Oksa says that the S-Group has not received even close to the ordered amount of greens such as iceberg lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.

Worst situation in decades

Kesko vegetable sales chief Liisa Eronen says that harvest losses have been great over a broad region of continental Europe.

Eronen says that the vegetable situation is the most severe it has been in twenty years, due to the extent of the adverse weather. There are no alternative veggy-rich countries of origin in the affected regions.

"The deficit is highest in various types of lettuce, tomatoes, zucchinis and peppers," details Eronen.

Eronen says that the consensus in Spain is that atmospheric conditions will continue to affect availability all through spring. As a result the hiked Finnish prices will be around for a while yet.

"Bad conditions affect plant growth and make new planting hard, especially when speaking of lettuces or flowering cabbages," Eronen says.

Sweden even worse off

Oksa assures readers that replacement products from other countries are being flown in. The S-Group, for instance, has replaced its Spanish cauliflower with a French variety.

Eronen says that neighbouring Sweden is bearing the brunt of the lack because the country does not have as much year-round greenhouse production as Finland.

The availability troubles only affect European vegetables. The supply of fruit has remained steady due to differences in harvest seasons.

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