Aleksejus Podpruginas | The Lithuania Tribune
Lithuania is well known for its distinctive national products. From dairy items to unique candies and alcohol brands, Lithuanian consumers can enjoy homemade and home grown goods just by visiting our local supermarkets or stores. On any given day, these items are available fresh from the farm and, in most cases, free of chemicals or additives.
Not so for the many émigrés who departed Lithuania during the Soviet regime and scattered to the four corners of the globe. In addition to becoming comfortable with their new surroundings and lifestyle, Lithuanians living abroad have had to adjust their palates as well. However, although Lithuanian products may be harder to find and more expensive to come by, it seems that Lithuanian citizens still manage to ferret out, from wherever it is that they now call home, the products that conjure up the aromas and tastes of the old country.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected places to find Lithuanian products is in Israel, a country where there is a sizeable population of émigrés from Lithuania and other Baltic countries. In Israel, stores that stock non-Israeli products and non-Kosher items such as pork, are called “Russian stores.“ It is here where one can purchase a range of Lithuanian products, like “Rokiškis“ cheese and Lithuanian butter, as well as “Lithuanian vodka“,“Švyturys“ and “Utenos“ beer, “Stumbras“ and others. Here, too, one can find authentic, world-famous Lithuanian bread. Some of the most popular products sold in Russian stores are Lithuanian chocolates and candies like “sostines” or “Vilnius.”
But a taste of home comes at a price. For example, “Rokiškio sūris” cheese, that costs 27 litas per Kg in Lithuania, in a Russian store in Israel costs about 17$ per Kg. This calculates to about 44.2 litas per Kg – a whopping 163% more than in Lithuania. Lithuanian butter, that costs about 3 litas in Lithuania costs in the Israeli market, about 3$, or about 7.8 litas – an increase of over 266.6% more.
Alcohol products are priced similarly. Beer, costing around 3 litas in a supermarket in Lithuania, will cost about 2.25$ in Israel, or about 5.85 litas for a 0.5 liter bottle, or roughly 195% more than in Lithuania. In Israel, “Lithuanian Vodka” costs almost double the price. On average, other products manufactured in Lithuania will be about 150% higher in Israel. By comparison, the popular Lithuanian candy seems to be almost a bargain – “Vilnius” candy costs only 17% more per Kg in Israel.
Not surprisingly, delivery and other expenses contribute to costs that are reflected in price tags much higher than what consumers pay in Lithuania. Other costs include transportation and shipping fees and warehouse storage. One of the most critical – and most expensive – stages in the process relates to added charges for quality control. Quality control ensures that the products retain their freshness and their real, unadulterated flavour and taste that purchasers of these products are longing for and expect.
Trade between Lithuania and Israel is important economically, and the market is growing. In 2010, exports from Lithuania to Israel totalled about $52.8 million, an increase of 57.7% over 2009. In terms of goods traded, 52% of the gross product purchased by Israel from Lithuania is cattle; in turn, 38% of the product purchased by Lithuania from Israel is electronic goods. (Source: “The Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute.”)
Demand for Lithuanian products in Israel is demonstrably high. With ongoing strong cooperation between Lithuania and Israel, there is no doubt that displaced Lithuanians will continue to find – and hopefully be able to afford – the idiosyncratic products they love.