5 min read
Food Importers

As the first country to gain independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, Lithuania has rapidly undergone significant regulatory reforms, progressing to an attractive market economy and the reputation of the Baltic tiger. Dependent on trade due to its smaller domestic market of 2.794 consumers, the integration in the European Union, later in 2004, has helped Lithuania develop stronger trade and investment opportunities with new and old partners, leading to increased dynamics on the import-export food market.

Moreover, the country`s strategic geographic location serves as a re-export hub for the Baltic states, The Russian Federation or the Balkans, while its excellent logistics infrastructure, rapid market innovations, and the highest GDP per capita in the Baltic countries, bring Lithuania`s food market very attractive for investors and competitive among importers.

Import climate

Lithuania continues to show remarkable adjustment capacity and a positive socio-economical climate despite the global economic slowdown in 2019 and 2020. Despite the rough year of the Covid-19 pandemic induced recession in the European Union, Lithuania has managed to leverage the socio-economic damage, maintaining a further positive recovery, with only a 2.2% drop in GDP in 2020.

In terms of buying behaviour and confidence, the Lithuanian market is highly fragmented by income and age groups. With the income growth and the citizens` migration to an urban area due to population declining, Lithuanian buyers have become more selective and sophisticated once with the apparition of commercial centres.

In line with this development, food imports have been rising since 2000, to cater for the food demand as well as the seasonal production, amounting to 3 694 million EUR in 2019. Nearly 80% of Lithuania`s food and agricultural imports come from producers and exporters from the European Union, mainly from Poland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, Italy or Spain but Lithuania also sources products from Non-EU countries including Ukraine, Argentina and Turkey.

At present, modern grocery retailers like hypermarkets, supermarkets, discounters or convenience stores are leading the retail competition due to their attractive low prices, convenience and availability of imported foods that are seen by many consumers of high quality.

Lithuanian buyers can find a plethora of imported products all year round, be it pistachios from Iran, rice from India, mushrooms from Russia or exotic products like cacao from the Ivory Coast, or bananas from Ecuador.

Market opportunities

Located in northeastern Europe, at the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, Lithuania`s soil productivity and agro-climatic conditions are generally favourable for agricultural production, but vary in different parts of the country. Mainly focused on the production of cereal grains, livestock and dairy cattle, Lithuanian agriculture is however among the most vulnerable countries to climate change in Europe, with fluctuations of droughts, frosty temperatures, or dry weather among others.

In spite of the domestic food supply, exporters of consumer-oriented agricultural products have great opportunities in the Lithuanian market. Market niches and prospects with good sales potential are fruit juice concentrates, nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, dried and processed fruits, ready foods, as well as organic products. Successful market entry depends heavily on the local partners be it Lithuanian food importers or distributors, who are the main and most accurate providers of insight regarding the market entry strategy.

The food processing sector`s demand

Exporters of fish and seafood can find many market opportunities in the country as Lithuania is a net importer of fish, volume-wise, processing 90% of the fish supply and re-exporting value-added products for end-user consumption, usually in the EU countries like Denmark or Germany.

Most fish and seafood imports come from the European Economic Area due to the preferential trade climate with the EU. Moreover, fish and seafood products in Lithuania have been generally popular for many decades, with consumption influenced by the positive perception of healthy properties.

With the food processing sector as a vital player in the economic sector, Lithuania constantly imports raw materials and ingredients that can`t be produced domestically. Food processors, fast foods, restaurants and other catering centres are developing successfully, creating an increasing need for novelty items and ingredients, including sweeteners, food additives, enzymes or aromas.

Urbanization & tourism-driven demand

The urban population of Lithuania, 67.4% of the country`s population, is enjoying higher living standards and unemployment rates than the rural areas. As a result, Lithuanian consumers increasingly value the variety, availability, quality and product presentation in general, while there is a growing number of customers willing to pay higher prices for food products of premium quality.

Organic food imports are considered significant in Lithuania since the country is not able to provide its market with all types of foods, while organics have great sales potential, especially for younger citizens with higher incomes who live in the city and usually shop at the supermarket. Popular organic products include baby foods, fruits and vegetables or bakery items while categories that lack the organic component are confectionery and ready to eat meals.

Additionally, with yearly 1.4 million tourists from all around the world (from Germany, Poland, Russia, Latvia, Belarus, UK, Finland, Italy to name a few), Lithuania`s demand for delicacies and ethnic foods has lead to the successful development of specialty stores, which in turn are competing against restaurants in offering traditional but also exotic culinary experiences for visitors and well-travelled locals. Those who enjoy experimenting with different cuisines have a large palette at their disposal as a variety of restaurants in Lithuania offer dishes from the menu of other countries, including meals from Chinese, Indian, Russian, or Italian cuisines.

All in all, the right partners and market research can make any exporter win on the Lithuanian food market. Leader supermarket chains in Lithuania like Maxima(Maxima Group), Iki(Rewe Group), Lidl(Schwarz Group) and Rimi(ICA AB) are generally supplying their shelves through direct food imports while the majority of medium-sized retailers rely on Lithuanian food importers and wholesalers for supplies.

Due to its small size, geographic location, as well as its excellent network of railroads and highways, Lithuania is also considered one of the best-connected countries in Europe, making trade flow smoothly from one point to another.

3 Food Importers from Lithuania:

Baltijos Bretlingis, Uab
Address: Dubysos G. 31a, Klaipeda, Klaipėdos apskritis, Lithuania
Phone: +370 46 365543
Website: bretlingis.lt

Uab Vijana
Address: Lazdijų G. 3a, Kaunas, Kauno apskritis, Lithuania
Phone: +370 37 316868
Website: vijana.lt

Uab Tomena
Address: Konstitucijos Ave. 7, Vilnius, Vilniaus Apskritis, Lithuania
Phone: +370 5 272 1090
Website: tomena.lt

To get access to a list of more active food importers from Lithuania, you can access one of the BestFoodImporters databases.

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