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Farmers in uproar as S-Group cuts food prices

Prices on 50 popular items were cut on Thursday at S-Group's grocery stores, but farmers say the discounts are hurting their livelihoods.

Maanviljelijä Jukka Ojantakanen navetassa Siikalatvan Rantsilassa 21.6.2017
File photo of milking cows. Image: Risto Degerman / Yle

Finland’s largest retailer S-Group lowered some food prices on Thursday, sparking sharp criticism from farmers across the country.

Domestic food producers have complained for years that S-Group’s efforts to lower prices on locally-produced foods has hurt farmers' livelihoods.

However, for the fourth year in a row, the retailing cooperative’s campaign continues. On Thursday, the firm said that prices are being reduced on 50 popular products, including milk, coffee, yogurt, ground beef and chicken.

According to an S Group survey, 87 percent of respondents said they want more affordable food.

Farmers getting less

Daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus said last year that both farmers and retailers now earn an increasingly smaller share of the money that consumers pay for basic foodstuffs. In contrast, the food industry reaps larger rewards.

A recent study carried out by the Pellervo Economic Research group (PTT) showed a clear change in the relationship between the food industry and the retail grocery sector in 2012-2016.

PTT's research found that although retail food prices dropped over that period, the food industry's overall share of the trade actually increased. However the producers of the raw inputs used to make those products - farmers - did not see significant change in their share of the trade.

The financial situation among many Finnish farmers has worsened in recent years due to EU export sanctions against Russia, counter sanctions by Russia, lower producer prices and poor harvests.

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