Finnish reindeer producers had to turn down a German order for the meat from 100,000 animals this autumn, because there were not that many to be slaughtered in the whole of the country.
Recently, orders have come also come in from France and Spain, but to date, all Finnish production has gone into meeting demand in the home market.
The business of reindeer herding seems to be at some sort of a crossroads.
The volume of production of reindeer meat has been in decline for years, and for no single, clear reason. This year, Finnish herders are likely to sell fewer than 80,000 animals for slaughter.
The domestic market takes all of the meat produced and would take more, if it were available. This means that a sharp rise in price is expected, but how big an upward surge consumers will stand for is still an unanswered question.
Imports from Russia
At the same time, the biggest processor of reindeer meat, the Swedish-Finnish company Polarica is importing an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 reindeer carcasses from Russia to help meet demand. According to the company, there are close to one million reindeer roaming the forests of Siberia. A quick calculation indicates that potentially imports from Russia could exceed the number of reindeer in Finland and Sweden combined.
For the time being, the reindeer producers’ organization Paliskuntain Yhdistys is not worried about the meat being marketed under the label “Siberian reindeer”. However, if imports grow significantly they could push prices down on the Finnish market.
According to the CEO of Paliskuntain Yhdistys, Anne Ollila, one prospect, at least in theory would be for Finnish producers to seek export markets of their own. Direct access to consumers in the EU, combined with growing interest outside the traditional Nordic market could be keep the business viable.
Reindeer husbandry falters in Finland, Yle News