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Russia’s food import ban sparks panic buying – among Finnish shoppers

Supermarkets in eastern Finland report hordes of Finnish consumers desperate to snap up cut-price “sanctions food” – Valio products prevented from entering Russia due to the EU food imports ban. Meanwhile the predicted boom in Russians crossing the border in search of Finnish products is yet to materialise.

Valion vientijogurttien myyntiä City-marketissa Lappeenrannassa.
Yoghurts which never made it to Russia, instead on sale for cheap at Lappeenranta City Market. Image: Vilma Hannén / Yle

Dairy items destined for the Russian market, but diverted due to Russia’s embargo on EU food products, are instead being sold in Finnish supermarkets, where their reduced prices have sparked a hoarding frenzy among Finnish buyers.

Branches of City Market and Prisma in South Karelia have described scenes akin to “panic buying” as Finnish consumers snap up the cut-price milk, yoghurts and cheese.

Increased numbers of Russian shoppers have also been reported in supermarkets in eastern Finland, although there are currently no signs of the predicted cross-border exodus of Russians in search of their favourite Finnish dairy products.

More sanctions food

Finnish traders are now vying to get their hands on more so-called “sanctions food” from Valio, as the outlawed Russian products have been so successful at drawing in the customers.

Esa Eskelinen from Citymarket in Imatra says the store will this week take delivery of more surplus yoghurt, cheese and sour cream.

Meanwhile Lappeenranta’s Citymarket is due to receive its largest ever intake of cheese and butter, the supermarket’s Reijo Tervo says.

Jari Antikainen, manager of Prisma, says that Imatra’s extra stocks of Oltermanni cheese, cottage cheese and quark disappeared within moments of being placed on the shelves. The chain is now trying to get more from Valio, although the dairy giant is also distributing its surplus stock to outlets elsewhere in the country.

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