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Finnish meat consumption takes tiny dip – pork still most popular

Beef and pork consumption fell in 2019, but a poultry boom is keeping meat stats high.

Slaktade grisar vid Snellman Ab i Jakobstad
Finnish people eat huge amounts of pork. Image: Yle/Kjell Vikman

People in Finland consumed two percent less meat in terms of kilograms in 2019 than the year before, according to market research results from Kantar TNS Agri.

While consumption by weight may be down, spending on meat products at Kesko (K-Group) supermarkets actually grew in monetary terms by 1.3 percent. Meat consumption has been climbing in Finland for many decades, this being the first time the trend has seen even meagre deceleration.

"Climate change and consciousness over food waste may lead to people purchasing less meat, but also making sure they eat the meat they do buy," said Kantar TNS Agri CEO Anne Kallinen.

High prices, rise of chicken

One way a change in the overall consumption of meat in Finnish society can be seen is in workplace dining, where the demand for meaty dishes is slowly falling. However, upward trends are also in play.

Statistics Finland reported that consumer prices rose by some four percent across the board, and meat producer prices also rose several percent. When consumption by kilogram falls only slightly, it means people spend more money on meat than before.

At the same time the popularity of chicken is rising sharply, both in kilograms and euros, as people switch from red meat to white meat. Broilers now account for 35 percent of all domestic meat consumption. The report said that perceptions of healthiness and the lower carbon footprint of poultry may account for its fast growth.

However, pork products still reign supreme in the Finnish meat market.

Minced meat and cold cuts keep pork at top

Pork is at the top of Finnish meat consumption habits (at 40 percent of all meat consumed), despite a five-percent dip last year and the doubling of poultry consumption over the past two decades.

There are several key reasons why pork is still so common on Finnish plates.

Finnish consumers love minced meat. Sausages and other mixed mince products containing pork accounted for well over half of food company Atria's total sales in 2019.

Finnish culture also favours the cold cuts and lunch meats that go into making sandwiches. Pork cuts, mettwurst and bacon are among the most popular forms of pig meat eaten by Finns.

Summertime grilling is also responsible for keeping sausage and frankfurter sales high, and ham is a staple of Finnish pizza restaurants.

How much do people eat?

Total national meat consumption is indicated by how much meat has been available on the domestic market over the course of one year. That figure is about 80 kg of meat (including bone mass) per person in Finland.

Total meat consumption is based on an annual nutritional report from the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). One year ago Finnish residents ate about 81.3 kg of meat per capita, according to the institute.

However, Kantar TNS Agri – whom Yle commissioned to research the topic – excludes consumed internal organs and game from its statistics. With this in mind, the two-percent drop in consumption quoted above is counted from 78.6 kg of meat per person in 2018 to 76.7 kg in 2019.

The mass of meat consumed is therefore a rough estimate. The actual processed meat that Finnish people put in their mouths accounts for some half of the total carcass weight calculated by Luke.

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