Price Formation and Market Functionality of Foodstuffs
The study analyses the price formation and market functionality of the Finnish food chain. A significant portion of the report consists of international comparisons. The main comparison countries are the so-called old EU countries (EU15) of Western Europe, the new EU countries (EU12) and the United States. Comparisons are also made with individual countries. After the international comparisons, the price formation of the food chain, degree of concentration, competition, and the position of small producers is analysed for Finland in more detail. The main findings of the study are as follows : 1) a significant reason for the high price of foodstuffs in Finland is the high VAT, 2) the price level without VAT was in 2005 a couple of per cent higher and in December 2009 about 7 per cent higher than the average in the old EU countries, but it is considerably higher than in the new EU countries and the United States, 3) In Finland the price level of food-stuffs is elevated by the weak agricultural competitiveness (northern location and small farm size); on the other hand, the competitiveness of the foodstuffs industry and the wholesale and retail trade is rather good, 4) measured in terms of price-cost margins, competition works in Finland just as well in agriculture, the foodstuffs industry and the wholesale and retail trade as it does in the food chain of the comparison countries, 5) the large share of the wholesale and retail trade in the Finnish food chain is attributable to higher transport costs than in the comparison countries, 6) in Finland the prices of foodstuffs have moved in the same direction as in comparison countries, albeit with a lag of a few months; in 2009 the prices of dairy products, butter and margarine, meat, fish products and food products nevertheless fell by considerably less than in the comparison countries and less than the development of producer prices would have indicated, 7) the foodstuffs industry and the wholesale and retail trade are concentrated sectors; enterprises nevertheless compete with each other and with imports, 8) the degree of concentration, agreement practices and price development should be monitored especially in product groups where consumer prices have not fallen in line with a decline in producer prices, 9) access of small producers to markets is important from the standpoint of competition and consumer choice; the position of small producers can best be improved by fostering the exchange of information within the chain.
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