Finnish cheese, which has long been a must in the shopping baskets of Russian tourists, has now become the number one item of illegal trading due to COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting normal visits from across the border and EU sanctions prohibiting exports of the delicacy to Russia.
What Russian consumers are really after is Oltermanni, a cream cheese said to resemble Danish cheese Havarti.
While the cheese costs about €5/kilo In Finland, smugglers in Russia are selling it for four times that amount, according to reporters of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) who disguised as potential buyers.
Finnish Customs has confirmed Russian lorries being under extra surveillance since they have been the main means of delivering the delicacy. In the bordertown of Lappeenranta, a supermarket has even limited its cheese sales to eleven kilos per household.
It would seem that Russian consumers are simply not satisfied with local cheese products. Most Russian cheeses taste the same, a local entrepreneur told YLE in an interview, adding that cheddar cheese is not even produced domestically.
Even before the EU imposed sanctions on Russia following the illegal annexation of Crimea, Finland exported many of its foodstuffs to Russia. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)