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Supermarket website crashes as Finns clamour for ”Putin’s butter”

The stampede of Finnish shoppers in search of cut-price dairy products banned from entering Russia has led one supermarket to introduce rations per customer. Finland’s food prices are among the most expensive in Europe, with consumers reportedly pouncing on the opportunity to pick up so-called “sanctions food” bargains.

pakote, Venäjä, Valio, voi, kauppa
Coming to a store near you - but not for long. Image: Heli Mälkiä / Yle

As cheap products falling foul of Russia’s food-imports embargo continue to end up on Finnish shelves, the rush of shoppers desperate to snap up a bargain is showing little sign of dying down, supermarket bosses say.

Ilkka Alarotu, S-Group’s director of assortments and pricing, announced on Twitter that unsalted butter forbidden from entering Russia will go on sale in the firm’s Finnish stores on Friday at a knock-down price.

Within moments of the announcement the volume of Finnish consumers looking to find out more about the half-price offer caused S-group’s website to crash temporarily, according to the company.

Ten packs per shopper

Earlier this week branches of City Market and Prisma in South Karelia described scenes akin to “panic buying” as Finnish consumers snapped up bargain-price milk, yoghurts and cheese.

Anticipating a similarly enthusiastic response this time round, S-Group say they are now introducing a personal allowance of ten packets of butter per consumer.

Finland has some of the highest food prices within the EU, in part due to heftier tax levies on groceries than many other European countries.

The country’s food retailing has also long been dominated by just two giant corporations, S Group and Kesko, who own nearly 80 percent of the market between them, leaving little room for newer competitors.

The Russian versions of Valio’s dairy products are produced in Finland, often to the same recipe as the products normally sold in Finnish stores.

Alarotu says there will be further so-called ”sanctions products” made available for sale in Finland.

On Thursday the Finnish Food and Drink Industries’ Association announced that they expect cut-price Norwegian salmon destined for Russia to also make its way into Finnish stores during the autumn, following Russia’s ban on food imports from the west.

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