Strike sends Finns scurrying over the border to Haparanda for meat
Swedish shopkeepers prepared for Finnish shopping spree
Minced meat, steaks, roast beef - almost everything is packed in large two-kilo cartons.
Meat counter sales clerk Ulf Myllymäki was filling coolers in the middle of large piles of cartons at ICA Max in Haparanda on Wednesday.
At the rival supermarket Coop Extra, Greger Gard was also filling cold cabinets to the brim, as all retail outlets in Haparanda are girding their loins for the anticipated Finnish shopping spree.
The first Finnish customers have already been seen shopping in the Swedish town just across the border, as the effects of the protracted dispute in the foodstuffs industry once again reduce the supply of meat and other processed items in their own local stores.
”I have heard from Finns that the shelves of Finnish stores are beginning to be empty. The impact of the Finnish industrial action can already be seen as an increase in our sales”, Gard reports.
”At present, the most sought-after sales article is ground beef”, says Myllymäki.
Food will not run out at Haparanda stores, confirms Kristiina Lehtonen, in charge of the fresh goods department at ICA Max.
”The management of this enterprise ordered that we will have to increase the volume of orders. Next weekend could turn into a real high season, resembling those during skiing holidays, when our store alone sells roughtly as many as 3,000 to 4,000 kilos of meat products per day”, Lehtonen reports.
On the border between Finland and Sweden, shopkeepers are used to rapid business fluctuations, Lehtonen notes. In the morning, she read the most recent news concerning the impact of the Finnish food workers’ strike and drew her own conclusions.
”We are prepared for the arrival of Finnish customers every weekend, even when there is no strike, but now the demand for food is exceptionally large”, Lehtonen notes further.
Because of the ongoing strike, Lea and Pertti Seppänen from the Finnish city of Kemi visited Haparanda to buy some sausage, meat products, and bread.
”The strike does not affect our life much, as Haparanda’s shops are only 30 kilometres away from Kemi”, says Lea Seppänen.
”It is worthwhile to come here even for no particular reason. In Sweden, even ground meat is chopped more finely”, Pertti Seppänen observes.
Mikael Sievistö, who moved from Finland to Northern Sweden in 1967, is not surprised at seeing Finnsh shopping tourists.
”I paid a brief visit to Rovaniemi at the weekend and noticed that the cold cabinets of supermarkets were looking rather sad. Even my daughter Maria complained that the shelves of shops in Tornio were empty”, says Sievistö with a plastic bag in his hand at the door to Coop Extra.
”Finns are immediately struck by a buying hysteria”, says Seija Kuusela from Salla with some amazement.
She called Haparanda in order to buy several 10-litre containers of condensed juice.
If the planned talks for today do not produce a settlement (Note: They did not - see attached article) and the strike continues and even escalates from the beginning of next week, the shopkeepers in Haparanda can expect even more customers to find their way across the border.
More on this subject:
Fresh attempts on Thursday to end food workers' strike end in failure (UPDATED 16:00)
How the food strike will show up in stores if it continues
Previously in HS International Edition:
Talks to resolve latest food workers strike to continue today (5.5.2010)
Rollercoaster continues: supermarket supplies restored before another strike threatens to close food processing plants again (28.4.2010)
Foodstuffs strike caused supermarket bread and meat selections to become more limited /(23.4.2010)
Up north, the cross-border trade in butter has turned into booze rallies (12.4.2010)
Finnish Lapland thrives on Norwegians coming in to buy supplies (22.12.2008)
Finnish Food and Drink Industries Federation (ETL)
Finnish Food Workers´ Union (SEL)