Honey market in Finland
As honey could basicly be used in every household, the market size is the whole
population: 5.35 million inhabitants in 2.5 million households. Honey is not recommended
to children under one year of age. Appr. 60,000 children are born each year.
Honey consumption in Finland is 580 grams per capita, i.e. 3.1 million kilos per year. The
consumption was slightly growing in the 90´s but has somewhat diminished later, as the
domestic supply has not been adequate. The average consumption in the European Union
is 700 grams per capita.
The population density of Finland is quite low with 15.5 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Only about 2 % of the population have a foreign origin. Two thirds of the population live in
the urban areas, and around one million people in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
Finns are quite well-off: GDP per capita was 34 769 euros in 2008, the forecast for 2009 is
-6.5 %, due to the global recession. The share of household income spent on food is quite
low, around 12-13 %. At this stage, whenever consumers´ income is growing, they will
spend more on high-class foodstuffs – including Fair Trade and organic products –
and new introductions, instead of bulk.
Honey market is characterized by big fluctuations, depending on the weather conditions in
Finland. In principle, all domestic honey gets sold, and imports are the flexible part of the
market, filling the gaps in the domestic supply. See ”Domestic production and exports/
There are no public statistics available for studying market segments as concerns honey.
Domestic production and exports/imports
As said, the differences in the domestic honey production are big, depending on the
weather. During the last 15 years, the annual domestic production has been between 0.8
and 3.0 million kilos, covering 35-90 % of the consumption – 67 % in the average. In 2008,
the production was 1.5 million kilos.
Most of the 2,600 Finnish producers are quite small, keeping less than 10 beehives – the
total amount of commercial beehives is about 42,000. The average production per beehive
was 36 kilos in 2008.
The average annual imports amount to 0.9 – 1.0 million kilos, originating mainly from
Central and South America. About two thirds of the imports come to Finland through
Germany and Denmark. Hungary´s share is between 5 and 10 percent.
As Finland is member of the European Union, market access rules follow the EU
regulations. Honey imports are allowed only from countries that have an approved plan for
monitoring of the groups of residues and substances. The list of the approved countries is
attached to the EU Commission Decision 2004/432/EY (the latest consolidated version in
2008), which can be found through this link:
The imported honey must originate from a producer that has been registered in the
exporting country by the government official in question. The exporting producer must
have a certificate on this registration and a health certificate.
When crossing the EU border, the honey will be subjected to a veterinary border
inspection. If the honey has not been inspected in another EU country but arrives directly
from a third country to Finland, there are four such inspection gates on the Finnish
borders. The inspections can include laboratory tests and they need to be booked
beforehand. The data of each lot has to be filled into the TRACES-system (Trade Control
and Expert System by the European Commission) one day before the border inspection at
the latest. More information on TRACES at: http://www.traces-cbt.net/ .
The consumption of honey has been quite stable in the last 20 years. As soon as the
household income starts growing again, the honey consumption can be expected to rather
increase slightly than decrease.
The buyers in the retail groups are extremely keen on high quality and product safety.
They do not, by any means, want to face any illegal cases like use of antibiotics in the
Distribution channels, relevant actors
Finnish food retail trade is dominated by big hypermarket/supermarket chains. The amount
of small specialty food stores is limited, compared to southern Europe.
The biggest chain is S-Group, a consumer cooperative SOK, holding 41-42 % of the food
market. Their buying organization is Inex Partners Ltd.
Second biggest is K-Group (Kesko Corporation as the central company, K-retailers
operating the retail stores), with 32-33 % of the food market. Their food business is
operated by Ruokakesko Ltd.
Suomen Lähikauppa Oy (”Finnish Neighbourhood Stores”) is concentrating in smaller
supermarkets, with a market share of around 11 %, serviced by Tuko Logistics Ltd.
Smaller players are Lidl, Stockmann department stores (also buying through Tuko), some
box store chains and two major wholesalers, Heinon Tukku and Metro-Tukku serving
mainly smaller supermarkets outside of the big chains.
The three big groups and the two wholesalers serve also the catering industry.