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Monday's papers: Trends in home cooking, employment among refugees, less business trust in government

Topics in the press include changes in how we shop and eat, job prospects for refugees, and falling business confidence.

 Maskia käyttäviä asiakkaita kauppakeskus Sellon Prismassa Espoon Leppävaarassa 7. lokakuuta 2020.
Finns are shopping less often, but buying in larger quantities when they do. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat reports that the coronavirus epidemic has changed how Finns shop and eat. Riikka Saarimaa, a researcher at the University of Turku's Future Research Centre believes that some of these trends may be permanent.

Saarimaa told the paper that online grocery shopping made a major breakthrough. While this is clearly evident, there are also other ways in which the epidemic has impacted on the food trade.

For a start, there have been an increase in sales of domestically-produced foods. Finnish-made foodstuffs have grown in popularity, and for example S-Group supermarkets say sales of fresh fish have risen by one-fifth since last spring.

Saarimaa sees this as in part a reflection of national solidarity, a desire to help small businesses, but also the fact that domestic raw ingredients are seen as safe, high-quality, clean and healthy. Some consumers, she says, may be concerned about whether or not foreign products are safe to eat.

Baking more, going shopping less often

Another major trend noted is home baking.

According to S- Group, baking flour and other products used in baking, such as syrup and eggs, have sold particularly well. The K-Group has reported that summer sales of baking supplies grew by 70 percent over the previous year's level.

People have also been stocking up on products with long shelf lives such as canned goods, frozen foods and dry goods, such as pasta.

At the start of the coronavirus epidemic, both the authorities and the media urged consumers to lay in supplies in case they became ill or quarantined. This trend has continued.

The size of single purchases has also increased. Consumers are shopping less often but buying larger quantities when they do.

"People are probably thinking more carefully about their food purchases. When shopping is less frequent, contact with a potential virus carrier is less likely. Also, buying more all at once makes everyday life easier," Riikka Saarimaa points out.

Lower business confidence

The Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet is one of the morning papers reporting a survey by Finland's Central Chamber of Commerce indicating that corporate confidence in the government's handling of the coronavirus epidemic and its economic consequences have declined markedly since May.

This survey found that just over two-thirds of Finnish companies think that the government has dealt with the economic crisis badly or very badly.

In May, a similar study put that figure at 55 percent.

Business sector concerns about management of the health aspects of the epidemic have also grown. About a third, 34 percent, think the government has failed to keep the epidemic under control. In May, only 13 percent of companies agreed with that statement.

The survey included 3,000 Finnish companies in various industries. About eight percent of respondents are self-employed.

As for the companies' view of their future prospects, the results are gloomy, but stable. Three out of four companies said that the epidemic has had a negative effect on their sales, which is roughly in line with the spring survey. Forty-four percent of respondents have laid off or are laying off staff, and 43 percent estimate that staff cuts will need to be made in the next two months.

The main group representing entrepreneurs in the country has appealed to the government for new support packages totaling 750 million euros.

In addition, the group wants to see a continuation of certain temporary changes in the law. These include measures easing the redundancy process.

Refugees, families, jobs

Jyväskylä's Keskisuomalainen looks at the results of a study showing that male refugees who take up residence through family reunification find employment faster than members of other refugee groups

The study by the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL and the Social Insurance Institution Kela examined data concerning covering about 15,000 people and found that there are differences in the employment of refugees depending on whether they have entered the country as asylum seekers, quota refugees or through family reunification.

The majority of the refugees whose data was included are from Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iran. Men who arrived through family reunification have the best prospects of finding jobs, according to the THL study.

According to THL research manager Jussi Tervola it is likely that the employment of men who have arrived through family reunification is facilitated by the fact that family members who have previously arrived in Finland may have acquired knowledge relevant to employment and established social networks.

Women who came through family reunification, on the other hand, were employed more slowly than others. Women who have come through family reunification are more likely than other groups to be on family leave since the beginning of their stay in the country, which, according to THL, delays their employment.

"The results raise the question of whether integration measures should also be targeted more at mothers caring for children at home," Tervola said in a press release quoted by the paper.

“Some municipalities already organise, for example, language teaching for recipients of home care support and provide childcare for the duration of the course. One may wonder whether this should be made binding on the organiser and perhaps also on the participant,” he added.

Prepare for the cold

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat writes that although Finland just had a weekend allowing people to enjoy warmer than usual autumn weather, it probably won't last long.

While Monday and Tuesday will continue warm and rainy, Foreca meteorologist Joanna Rinne tells the paper that the weather will continue to cool down towards the end of the week, with night frosts all the way into southern Finland, and even the chance of some snow in northern and central parts of the country.

"It won't stay on the ground yet, but snowflakes may be seen," says Rinne.

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