Buying food in Finland

Buying food in Finland

Finnish towns have a daily fresh food market that is held outside during the summer and has a permanent indoor home during the winter. The choice of food will be somewhat limited but is not restricted to only Finnish Produce goods. However, you can find all kinds of food in Finnish supermarkets from meats and fish to cheeses, pizzas, and milk. Finnish supermarkets are very modern and pleasant and much more on a par with British stores than those of their Scandinavian neighbors. They also offer a far wider choice of chilled and frozen foods than those countries. In recent years, the offering has become far more international, especially with the coming of foreign competitors such as Lidl who now have 10 percent of the market. Large department stores such as Sokos and Stockman have their own food halls, while large supermarkets such as Prisma and CityMarket also stock clothes, shoes, CDs and DVDs, electrical goods, magazines, sports equipment and much more.

From an American in Finland: Once you’re in the store and ready to check out, don’t get in the first cashier line you see. Finns have this strange ailment that whenever they see a line, they feel they must be in it. Every week at my local supermarket, I think there are huge lines at the checkout, then I»ll stroll 20 registers down and there’s a bunch of girls sitting there without any customers.

Finland produces 85 percent of its own food needs. Much of this is traditional, including bear, mouse and reindeer meat and berries with 400 times the vitamin C content of oranges. The Finns have a highly developed system of ensuring food safety. Their milk and egg safety is considered by many to be the best in Europe.

Medicine is purchased in chemists called APTEEKKI. There is usually more than one chemist in town, with one of them staying open very late or even all night. Villages and larger ski resorts also often have a chemist, or another point such as a village shop or a post office, where non-prescription medicine is sold over the counter.

Doing It Yourself

From Annabel Battersby, an Australian in Finland: ‘the first time I went to a Finnish supermarket, about a week into my first visit to Finland, I made an accidental blunder. I picked up fruit and vegetables with my shopping and went straight to the counter to buy it all. To my surprise, the girl at the checkout told me I had to weight and label the fruit and vegetables myself before coming to the counter. So I obediently went back and did this—trying hard to figure out which label was for which fruit or vegetable with my non-existent Finnish, and remembering the numbers. In Australia, the check-out assistant does this for you, and everywhere else I»ve lived come to think of it. Going to the supermarket in Finland has meant making an effort to remember to weigh and label all the fruits and vegetables myself. After the first couple of months, I still occasionally forgot to weigh one thing or another, and I feel it’s a real achievement to remember to weigh everything. It’s such a conscious effort. But even better, I»ve picked up some Finnish more quickly!»

From an American in Finland: «At all Finnish supermarkets, you need to have a coin to get a shopping cart, the coin is then given back to you when you return the cart. And not just any coin, often only 50 cents or € 1 pieces. I never have coins in my pocket and forget about this fact each and every week as I enter the store! And grocery bags cost money, like 20 cents a bag, but they’re much more durable than the free ones in the States.»

Please note that you will not be able to buy alcohol, apart from mild beer and cider, in Finnish supermarkets. Wine, strong beer and spirits are only sold in off-licences called ALKO to those over the age of 20. Some shopping centers include a separate ALKO shop, while you can also find one in some of the larger ski resorts and most towns. ALKO shops are closed on public holidays and Sundays.