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FINLAND: alcoholic beverage traveler imports surge after COVID-19 pandemic recovery in 2022

07.03.2023 - In 2022, Finns purchased 36.9 million liters of alcoholic beverages on their foreign trips, equivalent to 4.0 million liters of pure alcohol. This represents an approximately 174 percent increase in the import of alcoholic beverages compared to the previous year.

The lifting of pandemic-related restrictions and the increase in international travel explain the significant growth in passenger imports in 2022.

"Gradual lifting of international travel restrictions at the beginning of 2022 has led to increased travel and a significant increase in the import of alcoholic beverages. Although the growth percentages for passenger imports are staggering, 37 percent* less alcohol was imported from abroad as pure alcohol than before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019," says Thomas Karlsson, the chief expert at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Most of the imported alcoholic beverages come from Estonia or are purchased on the ship returning from Estonia, regardless of the type of beverage. All beverage categories experienced an increase in passenger imports in 2022, with the import of spirits experiencing the largest relative increase. Of the travelers, 59 percent did not bring any alcoholic beverages back with them.

Online purchases of alcohol decreased by 22 percent from 2021. Alcoholic beverages purchased from foreign online stores amounted to 23 million liters, equivalent to 2.0 million liters of pure alcohol. The amount of alcohol purchased online decreased by 22 percent compared to the previous year.

Different beverage categories were emphasized in passenger imports and online purchases. In terms of pure alcohol, strong alcoholic beverages accounted for 42 percent of all passenger imports, while milder alcoholic beverages, especially beer, accounted for nearly 31 percent of online purchases in 2022.

The total consumption of alcoholic beverages in Finland consists of the retail and on-premise sales of alcoholic beverages in Finland, as well as Finnish imports of alcohol from abroad and online purchases of alcohol. In 2021, passenger imports and online purchases accounted for 9.4 percent of total alcohol consumption. Information on the total consumption of alcoholic beverages in 2022 will be available in May when domestic consumption statistics are finalized.

Alcohol passenger imports (blue) and online purchases (red) from foreign web stores (converted to 100% alcohol) between the years 2017-2022.

Source: THL

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