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Retailers favour Slovenian products, but buyers decide based on price

Ljubljana, 03 July (STA) - Faced with calls to put more Slovenian produce on shelves, retailers claim they put a lot of effort into selling as much Slovenian vegetables as possible. However, the share of buyers to whom price is more important than origin is increasing, which retailers have little influence over.

The share of Slovenian fruits and vegetables in Spar is growing and has reached 32%, Spar Slovenia told the STA. Last year, they bought about 600 tonnes of Slovenian fruits and vegetables more than in 2022, or 2,400 tonnes more than in 2019.

They support local producers and farmers and have long-term deals with some of them. "Whenever enough Slovenian products are available, we stop buying from foreign companies and only offer local products. We support local producers and farmers even when their prices are higher." On average, the purchase prices are 20%-30% higher than the prices of foreign vegetables.

The company wishes buyers would buy more Slovenian products. "However, market research shows that buyers seek cheaper products and are only willing to pay 6% more for Slovenian products. Only a year ago, they were willing to pay 15% more."

Engrotuš, owner of the Tuš retail chain, also told STA that buyers are focused on price in the current economy. Retailers on the "incredibly competitive Slovenian market" tailor their offer to that.

"This is also true of fruits and vegetables, the prices of which are currently lower with foreign suppliers. Tuš offers products of both Slovenian and foreign origin, however, we have noticed that buyers tend to choose products based on price," they explained.

Hofer told the STA that they plan to purchase seasonal products from farms in autumn, which means they make a deal with suppliers a year ahead. "We always stick to the agreements made with suppliers and buy products in agreed upon quantities at agreed upon prices. In the case of a surplus of fruits or vegetables, we are often willing to help them and buy off the products."

During peak season, from late spring to autumn, when Slovenian fruits and vegetables are available, up to 75% of the products Hofer offers are Slovenian. At the moment, this share is about 40%. "We begin to sell Slovenian fruits and vegetables as soon as they are available from our suppliers," they added.

Similarly, Lidl said that "the local suppliers we collaborate with offer high-quality products, which is why we are willing to pay a fair price. We are therefore not interested in buying from elsewhere, especially when it comes to products available locally."

Jagros, owner of Jager stores, said they offer all fruit and vegetable varieties available from Slovenian producers during certain seasons. They also have long-term deals with them.

"The problem is that Slovenian producers' output is unstable. It depends on the weather and natural disasters, which makes it very hard to plan. Meanwhile, consumers expect a constant supply and quality," they explained.

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