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Reindeer-meat consumption up in Sweden; alcohol consumption down in Finland

Higher demand and a stagnant supply has driven up the price of reindeer meat in Sweden as consumers shop for more natural, free-range meats.

Buyers are paying a record high of $27 per pound in the northernmost Sami villages, an increase of about $3.30 per pound since last fall, according to newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Although between 50,000 and 60,000 reindeer are slaughtered in Sweden each year, demand outstrips supply. One explanation is that more consumers want to eat less processed meat, free of antibiotics and hormones.

Farmers have a hard time increasing the size of their herd since they are limited by the amount of pasture. Modifying Sweden’s policy toward the reindeer’s natural predators could increase the size of the stock, according to Renlycka, the Reindeer Owners’ Quality Association.

“Predators have grown much in the last 15 years. Wolves, lynx, wolverines, bears and eagles take between 30,000 and 50,000 reindeer each year. There are almost as many slaughtered,” Ol-Johán Sikku, a project manager at Renlycka, told the newspaper.

Most of meat is consumed locally in the north of Sweden though a small portion is sent to restaurants and shops down south and overseas.

Alcohol consumption falls in Finland

The latest figures from the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL show a decline in alcohol consumption in Finland, and an associated fall in the negative health impacts of drinking.

The latest THL Yearbook of Alcohol and Drug Statistics shows that total consumption of alcoholic beverages in Finland amounted to 2.54 gallons of pure alcohol per capita in 2012, a decrease of 5 percent from 2011.

The number of alcohol-related inpatient care periods also dropped a corresponding 5 percent. The number of care days due to different kinds of alcohol-related withdrawal symptoms has especially shown a decline over the past few years.

Surveys show that 23 percent of men of working age and 7 percent of women engaged in binge drinking at least once a week. No significant changes have taken place in the use of alcohol among men and women of working age, but alcohol use among young people has decreased steadily during the 2000s and the proportion of young people who abstain from alcohol has increased in recent years.

The lowest level of alcohol sales was recorded in the Åland Islands in southwest Finland and the highest in Finland’s Arctic Lapland province, where nearly 2.9 gallons of pure alcohol per capita were sold in 2012. Officials attribute those higher levels in part to sales in border regions with Sweden and Norway, where travelers stock up on alcoholic that is less expensive than in those two countries.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare says that in 2011 the direct costs of alcohol abuse to Finnish society were estimated at approximately $1.36 billion. State revenue from the excise duty on alcoholic beverages in 2012 totaled $1.88 billion.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.