Imported Premade Sandwiches Sold Cheaper Than Icelandic Equivalents

Imported goods and food have long been a standard feature of Icelandic life, but a new product that’s made its way onto the local market is raising the hackles of some who question both its carbon footprint and its price-point. Mbl.is reports that premade sandwiches are now being shipped to Iceland from Lithuania and sold at a cheaper price than their domestically produced equivalents.

The imported sandwiches, which are sold under the brand name Food on Foot, caught the attention of Friðrik Árnason, the owner of Hótel Breiðdalsvík in East Iceland. “We import all sorts of things to Iceland, but it never occurred to me that I’d see imported premade sandwiches from Lithuania in a shop in South Iceland,” Friðrik wrote in a post on his Facebook page. “To be honest, I was disappointed to see this, thinking about the environment, carbon footprints, and sustainability. I was even more shocked when I saw that the imported sandwiches are half the price of the sandwiches that are made here, with the same ingredients. It’s a head-scratcher for me.”

The sandwiches, which are shipped frozen to Iceland, are imported by the Reykjavík-based company Danól. Managing director María Jóna Samú­els­dótt­ir provided a written response to Mbl after being contacted about the new product and said that the sandwiches are high-quality and have received a good response on the Icelandic market.

When asked how a sandwich made in and shipped all the way from Lithuania could be cheaper than a sandwich made in Iceland, María Jóna wrote: “Of course we can’t speak to other parties’ price points, but Danól has a good business relationship with the supplier, which of course, is also producing for a much larger market than the one in Iceland. And as a result, consumers here in Iceland enjoy economies of scale.”

María Jóna ended by saying that the primary purchasers of the Lithuanian sandwiches are cafés in rural areas (“often remote villages”) that “see that favorable prices, product quality, and ease of service go hand in hand.”

Lithuanians Send Iceland 30 Thank Yous on 30th Anniversary of Independence Recognition

Lithuanian independence

Thirty years ago today, Iceland became the first country to officially recognise Lithuania’s declaration of independence from the USSR. To mark the occasion, the Lithuanian community in Iceland made a video saying “takk” (thank you) 30 times over. According to its creators, the video “represents the diversity of Lithuanians living in Iceland” and is a reminder of the “long-standing friendship of the two nations.”

Each February 11, to mark the anniversary of Iceland’s gesture, some 2.8 million Lithuanians in their home country and the Lithuanian diaspora (which numbers over 1 million) organise a variety of events to thank Iceland for recognising the country’s independence. In 2006, for example, Lithuanians collected over 200,000 signatures of thanks that were then presented to the President of Iceland to mark the historic anniversary.

Lithuania has gone even further in recognising Iceland’s contribution to its country, however. Several streets in the nation’s capital Vilnius, as well as the cities of Kaunas and Klaipėda, feature streets named after Iceland or Reykjavík. Lithuanians even celebrate Iceland’s National Day, June 17, by putting up Icelandic flags on those streets, playing Icelandic music, and serving up Icelandic food and beer.

In 2020, Statistics Iceland reported 4,628 Lithuanian citizens living in Iceland. Among the first Lithuanians to settle in the country in recent decades were professional athletes. The first known Lithuanian to move to Iceland, however, was Teodoras Bieliackinas, who settled in the country in the 1930s. He studied Icelandic at the University of Iceland and later worked as a language teacher, journalist, and translator.

Immigrants Over 14% of Population

Polish Mini Market Breiðholt

Immigrants in Iceland numbered 50,727 as of January 1, 2019, or 14.1% of the population. This represents a significant increase from the previous year’s figure of 12.6%. The number of second-generation immigrants also rose from 4,861 in 2018 to 5,263 in 2019. The data comes from Statistics Iceland.

People born in Poland were the largest group of immigrants in 2019, as in previous years, numbering 19,172 as of January 1 of this year, or 38.1% of the total immigrant population. The second largest group were immigrants born in Lithuania (2,884), followed by those born in the Philippines (1,968).

As of January 1, 2019, 63.6% of first- and second-generation immigrants were living in the Reykjavík capital region. The region with the highest proportion of immigrants was, however, the Southwest, with 26.6% of its residents being first- or second-generation immigrants. The Westfjords came second, with just under 20% of residents falling into these categories.

Statistics Iceland defines an immigrant as an individual born abroad with both parents and all grandparents also foreign born. A second-generation immigrant is born in Iceland to immigrant parents. A person with foreign background has one parent of foreign origin.

The full report is available in English on Statistics Iceland’s website.