Friday, September 10, 2010

The cost of food shopping in Finland

Many people ask me about the cost of living in Finland. To me, everything seems expensive. Not only because of high VAT, but also because things just seem to be given a silly price tag in Finland.

For example, I was looking at mattresses and beds lately (a blog for the future) OMG! Horrendously expensive!!!

I have though, been meaning to run a blog of the price of food for ages.. but just not got around to it. Last week, I did a small food shop and remembered to take a few photos. *It just goes to show that my husband is so used to my weird ways, when he did NOT think I had lost the plot, taking photos of our shopping!!*

I am curious to know how these prices relate to that near you. I know they seem a lot more to me than I would be paying in the UK ...and I have not lived there for six years. I may be out of touch. Realistically, I did not buy that much. I also used up a variety of vouchers and saved 6.90€ against the bill, which was 68.81€ as a final figure.

Reductions are quite common in the shop I shop at, which is the Valintalo in Sodankylä. I think it is a really good shop and whilst it doesn't have everything I need...and I have to go to Lidls or KMarket to buy other bits and pieces.. we do do the vast majority of our shopping there. The staff are good and very friendly. We know them well now.

My first reduction was 1.30€ for pullonpalautus (bottle returns). This is quite usual all over Finland, but something that stopped in the UK, many years ago. When buying a bottle of something, (fizzy drink or alcohol) you have to pay a bottle excess charge, but you get this back, upon the safe return of the bottle, as long as the barcode label is still on it. It used to be that the machines gave you back cash, but now it prints a receipt which you hand to the cashier. I think it is good to have a system like this, it is a much greater greener initiative. The only downside for me, is that it does not extend to all bottles and containers, like shampoo bottles, squash/juice bottles etc.

Large coca-cola sized bottles are worth 40c back, smaller bottles 20c, glass bottles 10c and tins, (beer, guinness etc) vary. As you might tell, with just 1.30€ for returns, we do not drink a lot of alcohol! In fact, most of our returns are on fizzy drink bottles.

I also had collected some stickers from a gift collection that the Valintatalo had been running, but had chosen not to buy the 'supposed reduced priced' items that were on offer. For each row of stickers you can claw back 0.20€ and a whole pamphlet full of stickers, a euro. Not a lot really.. but it is all money after all! So, I surrendered those. I had 5.60€ worth. I always ask for the stickers. I think the staff know me as 'sticker woman' or better still as the '30% off sticker woman'! :D

Valintatalo is quite unusual in the fact that more often than other shops, they do use an orange reduction sticker on goods if they are running low on dates and oftentimes, items are not even close to useby dates, they just want to clear space. It used to be a 50% sticker, but these days it is 30%. I guess even big companies are feeling the pinch. I am not ashamed to say that I buy most of my meat that way. Even if I do not need it at the time, it goes into the freezer until I do. It all helps a budget. Meat is a horrendous price here, so it makes sense to do that in my book! :D

Here is the list of what I bought last week.

Jauheliha mureke (This was a type of meatloaf I was actually quite surprised at this price - most unusual - plus when we baked it, it was very nice...although I did wrap it in bacon slices first!) You can see this on the left hand corner, in a black box. 3.79 €

Fazer Maitosuklaa
200g (essential chocolate!) 1.69 €
Fanta Mandariini 1.5L (on special but excluded the bottle charge) 1.29€
Coca-Cola 1.5L (excluded the bottle charge) 2.19€
Pullopantti (bottle charges) 2 x 0.400.80€

Päärynä Guyot (fresh Pears) 583g 2.19€ @ 1.99kg 1.16€

Sitruuna (fresh Lemons) 0,546g @ 3.79kg 2.07€

Paikkakunnan Peruna (fresh local potatoes) 776g at 1.25€ per kg 2.22€

Pall Mall Blue 30g (loose tobacco) 3.25€
Pedigree Pal Kana (tube of dog food) 1.79€
Taloussokeri 1kg (granulated sugar) 0.99€

Quaker Ruis Fras (cereal) 3.39€
(actually this was supposed to be on special with 30% off, but I have just noticed whilst doing this blog tha we didn't get the reduction on the receipt!) It should have been 2.37€ .... just goes to show I need to check my receipt better!

Atria Broileri Paisti (fresh chicken breasts) 700g 4.49€
In Finland, manufacturers like to pre-dress the breasts with some kind of sauce, but you can wash it off if you prefer!

Perhekalkkuna (turkey slices) 250g 3.09€ /30% off / 2,16€
Rypäle Vihr (fresh green grapes) 500g 1.79€
Maissi (frozen sweetcorn) 450g 1,29€
Kevytmaito 1.5L (semi skimmed milk) 1.19 (x4) 4.74€
Meira Curry (curry powder) 25g 0.95€ (x2) 1.90€
Meira Inkivääri (ginger powder) 22g 0.99€
Meira Minttu (dried mint) 8g 1.69€
Marli Vital Puolukka 1L (Cranberry type juice) 1.39€
Airam Vakiolamppu (lightbulbs) 1.39€
Ranksanleipa 350g 0.89€ /30%off/ 0.62€ x 2 1.24€ (a supposed French style bread unsliced but cheap by Finnish standards!)
Pehtoori leipa 2.19 /30%off/ 1.53€ x 2 3.06€ (a country style slice loaf which makes up for the price of the french style!!)
Valkpapu Tom (Tinned baked beans) 420g 0.75€ x2 1.50€
Tomaattimurska (crushed tinned tomatoes) 400g 0.49€ x2 0.98€
Liha maksa (Friskies dried cat food) 2kg 5.89€
Energizer Hightech (4 AA batteries) 5.49€
Powerlife Micro (4 AAA batteries) 3.59€
Bio Luvil 1.35kg (soap powder) 5.99€
Flora (Margarine) 400g 1.49€

Total 74.41€, which when less the vouchers was 68.81€. All items are showing in the photograph other than the soap powder, tobacco and spices - which had already been put away and I had forgotten about! :D but the photo gives you a good idea of what the money is worth here. 68.81€ roughly equates to £57 UK pounds or $88 (US Dollars). Could you buy more or less with that money?

One other benefit of Valintatalo is the Ukkosbonus euro - point/credit reward system which runs from 1st Sept to 1st Sept annually. Every December I get a wonderful bonus cheque back, redeemable in cash at the supermarket. Generally I get back about 200 euros or so. :D Very handy, just before Christmas! in my opinion, it is much better than occasional vouchers off in the post that come via other schemes. Herra Sentti (Mr Cent) is the cartoon like figurehead of the promotion and there are also several Herra Sentti 'stretch the cent' weeks when there are special offers available for anyone presenting their Ykkösbonus card upon transaction. In fact, that is on right now, until the 15th.

VAT in Finland, is currently 23% on food and 13% on non foods.

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