The Organic market in Finland is increasing rapidly, demand exceeding supply. Food retailers are responding by offering more organic products in their stores.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
GAIN Report Number: FI1104
Finnish Organic Market
Mary Ellen Smith
The Organic market in Finland is increasing rapidly, demand exceeding supply. Food retailers are
responding by offering more organic products in their stores. The utilization of products in public
school kitchens is also increasing. Best opportunities for U.S. organic products lie in products not
produced domestically (dried fruits and nuts, wines, rice etc.) and processed fruits and vegetables.
I. MARKET OVERVIEW
The organic market in Finland is increasing rapidly. In 2010, the turnover of organic food products
reached 80 million Euros (US$ 105) and every fifth Finnish household purchased organic products on a
regular basis, compared to 17% in 2008. In 2011, sales are expected to reach 110 million Euros (US$
144) and this trend is expected to continue. However, in comparison to its neighboring countries,
Sweden (3%) and Denmark (7%), the market share in Finland of 1.2% is still low.
The demand for organic products is growing much faster than supply. So far, the restricted supply of
organic products in Finnish food retail outlets has been the main obstacle for growth. However, food
retailers are now increasing shelf space for organic products to meet consumer demand. In the first half
of 2011, the stores have seen a growth of over 40% in the sales of organic products. Most organic food
products are marketed through the major retail food chains (84%).
Although the increase in consumption has led to an expansion in domestic production, the government
subsidies also play an important role. The organic acreage was very small until the early 1990s when
the Ministry of Agriculture first started subsidizing farmers for conversion to organic farming. In 2011,
7.9% or 180,706 hectares of Finnish farmland was certified organic. The growth rate compared to the
previous year was 9%. The average size of an organic farm has increased by over one hectare per year
and was 44.5 hectares in 2011. Organic farms are in average 10% bigger than conventional farms.
Despite the increase in domestic production, Finland continues to import various food groups, both
organic and non-organic, to meet consumer demands. Because of its extreme Northern latitude, the
climate conditions and brief growing season limit the variety of crops produced locally. Finland,
therefore, must import those crops grown in more temperate climates, such as rice, coffee, tea, wine,
nuts and various fruits. It is worth noting, though, that many of the food items not produced
domestically, are available from other EU Member States. Since these Member States enjoy the
advantages of free trade with, and proximity to Finland, most of Finland’s overall foreign trade occurs
within the EU. However, there are opportunities for organic ready-prepared meals, ethnic foods and
processed fruits and vegetables, where the variety and availability in Finland is still much more limited
than that found in the United States.
II. CONSUMPTION AND MARKET SECTORS
Fueled by the promotion efforts of organizations like Luomuliitto Ry (Finnish Association for Organic
Farming) and Organic Food Finland, and aided by government subsidies, Finland’s organic food
industry shows great promise. Overall, consumer demand for organic food products has risen at a
steady, but moderate rate over the past several years. In 2010, however, sales or organic food products
boosted. Recent studies indicate that currently, 22% of Finnish consumers “regularly” purchase organic
food products, up from 17% in 2008. Conversely, the number of consumers who have never tried
organic products has declined from 32% to 27% during the same period.
The trend toward organic foods is expected to continue and consumer surveys have identified the
following primary reasons for the appeal for organic food products: taste, purity, freshness, animal
welfare, environmental considerations.
Reportedly, organic food products with the highest market shares in 2010 were eggs (over 8%) and
vegetable oil (7%). Other product groups are: grains (5.2%), flours (5.1%), tomatoes (4.5%), breakfast
cereals (3.9%) and fruit and berries (2.8%).
Retail Food Sector
Retail chains are the primary distribution channels for organic products in Finland (84%). A few central
wholesalers (S-Group, K-Group, Suomen Lähikauppa) together dominate the food industry with an
aggregate market share of 88.1%. These chains have closely knit wholesale and retail arrangements
comprising a compact and efficient goods delivery system and a nationwide network of retail shops as
well as department stores and supermarkets. They also have hotel and restaurant chains and catering
services. The centralized system makes distribution economical; purchases from abroad can be made in
viable quantities considering the relatively small size of the market. Almost one-third of the total
wholesale trade in Finland is transacted through these wholesale organizations.
The rising popularity of organic products has led to a shortage of products in retail food stores. The
retailers are now actively increasing the number of organic products in their stores. The S-Group
reported that organic food sales increased by 50% in the first eight months 2011 compared to last year.
The share is still small, however, with organic products comprising just 1.2% on total food sales of S-
Group. The K-Group aims to double the selection of their private label Pirkka organic products from
the currently fifty to one hundred in 2012. In order to better coordinate the supply and demand for
organic products, the organization “Pro Organics” was established in March 2011. Major players in the
Finnish food sector, including S-Group and K-Group, are members of the association.
Only 16% are sold through other outlets, such as specialty stores, open markets, health food stores etc.
HRI Food Service Sector
Organic products are increasingly finding its way into schools and restaurants in Finland. Many school
kitchens, mainly in the larger urban areas, are planning to gradually increase the share of organic foods
in school meals. A voluntary program, “Steps to Organic”, has been developed and serves as a support
network for professional kitchens that want to increase their use of organic products. The first step is to
take at least one organic product or raw material into permanent use in the kitchen. In 2010, about 500
kitchens, mostly in the public sector, had joined the program.
Food Processing Sector
In 2010, there were about 500 registered food processors, packers and traders in organic production.
Finland is one of the biggest producers of organic oats. Other organic food products produced in
Finland are: rapeseed oil, potato flour, liquorice, shiitake mushrooms and wild berries.
Major producers of organic food products in Finland are Valio Oy (dairy products), Helsingin Mylly Oy
(milled products) and Fazer Oy (bakery products).
III. MARKET ACCESS
Control and Inspection
The organic food industry throughout the European Union is regulated by Council Regulation 834/2007,
which details minimum guidelines for the production, labeling and inspection organic food products
imported into the EU.
In Finland, the production, processing, importing and marketing of organic products are controlled
through the Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira) and Rural Departments of Finland’s 15 regional
Employment and Economic Development Centers.
The Finnish Customs authorities works closely with Evira and carry out border controls for organic
products from countries outside the EU. Evira inspects samples of organic feed, food of animal origin
and organic livestock. Other samples are inspected by the Customs Laboratory.
Organic alcoholic beverages are controlled by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and
To import U.S. organic products into the EU, importers must work through their competent authority to
obtain an import authorization. The products must, at a minimum, provide guarantees equivalent to
those set under EU organic legislation. In Finland, such an authorization must be applied from Evira. It
is most important that the U.S. exporter work closely with the importer to make sure that the products
destined for this market are in full conformity with the country’s organic rules and regulations.
As of July 1, 2010, the EU organic label “Euro-Leaf”, must appear on the packaging of pre-packed
organic food that have been produced in any of the EU Member States and meet the necessary
standards. There is a two-year transition period to comply with these new labeling rules. For products
imported from outside the EU, the use of the Euro-Leaf is, however, optional.
Alongside the EU label, national labels can also be used. In Finland, there are two established Finnish
organic labels, the “Luomu” label and the “Ladybird” label. The “Luomu” label applies to agricultural
products produced under supervision of the Finnish authorities, according to conditions set in the EU
regulations on organic agricultural production. The “Luomu” label can also be used on imported
products as long as the last stage in production, packaging or labeling takes place in Finland.
The “Ladybird” label is the Organic Association’s label and is granted to farmers, food processors and
manufacturers who produce organic products according to the association’s standards. The standards
require a certified quality control system and that at least 75% of the ingredients of the product are of
In addition, there are other organic labels such as the Demeter biodynamic label. The Finnish
Biodynamic Association has its own standards for the Finnish biodynamic production based on the
international Demeter standards.
All the above national labels must have at least the same minimum requirements as the EU regulations
on organic standards. Although the national labels have been traditionally used in Finland, the EU label
is more and more taking over. Many products are now labeled only with the EU logo and the use of
national labels is slowly phasing out.
IV. KEY CONTACTS
MAJOR FOOD RETAILERS
Retail Chain Companies responsible for purchasing and logistics:
Suomen Osuuskauppojen Inex Partners Oy
Keskuskunta SOK P.O. Box 230
P.O. Box 1 FIN-02631 ESPOO
FIN-00088 S-GROUP Tel: +358 10 76 87 000
Tel: +358 10 768 011 Fax: +358 10 76 87 190
Fax +358 10 768 2390 www.inex.fi
Kesko Food Kesko Food
Satamakatu 3 Satamakatu 3
FIN-00016 KESKO FIN-00016 KESKO
Tel: +358 10 5303 Tel: +358 10 5303
Fax: +358 10 532 3467 Fax: +358 10 532 3467
Suomen Lähikauppa OY Tuko Logistics
P.O. Box 115 P.O. Box 115
FIN-00581 HELSINKI FIN-04201 KERAVA
Tel: +358 20 700 300 Tel: +358 20 771 11
www.lahikauppa.fi Fax: +358 20 771 2060
Stockmann Group Stockmann Group (+ Tuko Logistics)
P.O. Box 147 Purchasing Division
FIN-00381 HELSINKI Tel: +358 9 121 5915
Tel: +358 9 121 51 Fax: +358 9 121 5671
Fax: +358 9 121 3153 www.stockmann.com
Satotukku OY (fruit & vegetable wholesaler)
Tel: +358 9 251 59100
Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira)
Tel: +358 20 690 999
Fax: +358 20 772 4350
Finnish Customs Office
P.O. Box 512
Tel: +358 20 690 600
Fax: +358 20 492 1812
Luomuliitto Ry (Finnish Organic Association)
Tel: +358 40 573 4791
Pro Luomu ry
Jalmarinpolku 7 B
Tel: +358 40 581 9252
Organic Food Finland
Puolikuu 3 D
Tel: +358 50 550 5225