Finnish PM wades into Milk War

matti-vanhanenMatti Vanhanen, the Finnish Prime Minister, has declared that he will personally boycott the chain of grocery stores operated by the S chain as an objection to their decision to phase out from some of their stores milk produced by the country’s largest dairy organisation, Valio.

The S chain of stores has instead begun the sale of milk products manufactured by Arla Ingman, the Swedish-owned company. The S stores, which are run by the Finnish SOK group, have announced that the decision is based on logistics, availability and pricing, and has reassured concerned Finns that the milk produced for sale will continue to be entirely Finnish. For almost a year the S group has been offering the Arla product for purchase.

YLE reports that sales in the 143 capital-based shops that are operated by the SOK subsidiary group HOK-Elanto sold some 50 million litres of milk in 2009. Of this total, half was produced by Valio. Mr Vanhanen has stated that Finnish consumers should be allowed to choose which brand of milk they buy. Writing in his regular blog, Vanhanen expressed his dismay when he was unable to find even the most basic Valio milk products in his local grocery store, where he has been a customer for 25 years. He has consequently switched to a rival outlet.

Mr Vanhanen is the head of the former Agrarian Party, now called the Centre Party, which has strong ties to the Finnish agricultural community.

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