Encouraging regulation enables more puchasing power

The grocery trade provides products and services to consumers, but it also carries out many important tasks for society. Companies in the commerce sector work responsibly to promote age limit control, food and product safety and climate perspectives, as well as to ensure the habitability of the entire country. As part of the National Supply Emergency Organisation, the grocery trade is involved in securing Finland’s food supply.

We advocate consumers’ freedom of choice and trust the ability of Finns to decide for themselves. The grocery trade has already successfully implemented major reforms, such as the deregulation of opening hours and the reform of the Alcohol Act. This is an excellent basis for further progress.

Wise policy decisions and sustainable regulations support the Finnish grocery trade in its competition on the international playing field. In our opinion, the conditions for competition of the grocery trade should be increased instead of restricted. The food supply chain is already sufficiently regulated.

The Finnish Grocery Trade Association’s government programme goals for 2023–2027

Deregulating the sale of mild alcoholic beverages
With the comprehensive reform of alcohol legislation in 2018, we moved from one of the most stringent environments in Europe in terms of alcohol regulation towards the more liberal European model. In our opinion, Finland should allow the sale of all alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of less than 15%, i.e. wine, beer and cider, in grocery stores.

Reforming pharmaceutical operations and the distribution of pharmaceuticals
The pharmaceutical distribution system must be renewed in Finland, as has been done in other Nordic countries. By reforming the distribution of pharmaceuticals, significant savings of more than EUR 100 million can be achieved in pharmaceutical expenditure for consumers and the state each year. An open and broad-based discussion is important in renewing the operating model.

Curbing the regulation of the food market
The regulation of the food supply chain has been significantly increased in recent years, and it is already excessive. Excessive regulation imposes an administrative burden on companies and hampers cooperation between operators. The functioning and competitive strength of the food supply chain is best promoted through cooperation between operators and by developing self-regulation.

Streamlining land use planning and construction related to commerce
Legislation on commerce-related land use planning and construction must be relaxed and the planning process speeded up. Free construction secures the development opportunities of commerce in domestic and foreign competition. The grocery trade invests hundreds of millions of euros every year in construction and the maintenance of the grocery trade service network, for example.

Food taxation must not be further tightened
Taxes account for approximately 45% of the price of food in Finland, and VAT on food is 14%. If the price level of food for consumers rises significantly, we should consider lowering the VAT on food closer to the European average. No new taxes should be imposed on food, nor should the existing taxes be raised.

Ensuring equal competitive conditions
The competitive conditions of companies operating in the commerce sector in Finland must be equal to those of international operators. EU-wide legislation creates costs that should not, however, cause a competitive disadvantage for companies operating in the EU vis-à-vis companies operating outside the EU.

Securing a comprehensive service network in the food trade
Food trade services must be secured in order to maintain Finland’s habitability and security of supply. A significant part of the service network consists of small local shops, typically located in suburbs, population centres and sparsely populated areas, which ensure that consumers have access to essential food items and other local services.

Promoting carbon neutrality and the circular economy in the food sector
The grocery trade will continue to be a proactive party in co-regulation aimed at slowing down climate change, promoting the circular economy and safeguarding biodiversity. The achievement of carbon neutrality and the development of the circular economy in the food sector will be promoted through voluntary corporate action, up-to-date legislation and adequate research and development funding.