'Thanks, Putin!': Finland flooded with cut-price 'Putin cheese' as Russia turns away European exports

Russia has retaliated against EU sanctions over Ukraine with import bans

Cheese lovers may want to consider a brief holiday in Finland, where Russian sanctions over Ukraine have prompted huge price cuts, causing a rush to supermarket chiller cabinets across the country.

One of Finland’s most popular cheeses, Oltermanni, is being sold at roughly half the usual price as retailers try to shift an influx of the product that had been destined for Russia.

Moments after the retailer, S Group, announced the reduction, the supermarket's website crashed with demand.

Such is the fame of the discount that Oltermanni has been dubbed “Putin cheese” and signs have popped up in stores thanking the Russian President.

Made by Valio, a 100,000kg shipment of the cheese had fallen foul of Russia’s ban on food imports from European countries that had hit it with sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.

The Kremlin has retaliated with several rounds of counter-sanctions against the US and EU, who had targeted Russia's state finances, energy and arms sectors amid accusations that the country was supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The influx of cheese in Finland was an unexpected consequence of the continuing crisis and has been enthusiastically welcomed by locals.

Oltermanni cheese, wrapped in Russian labels, had prices slashed in stores owned by the country’s largest retailer, S Group, to about €3.70 per kilogram (£2.90).

“The demand has been very strong, it has already run out in some stores,” said S Group spokeswoman Outi Hohti.

One Finn who spoke to the International Business Times said the country was “going mental” for the sanctions, which were filling shops with export goods unwanted by Russia.

“Obviously the Finns are lapping it up,” he added. “I got elbowed by the locals as everyone was grabbing the cheese.”

The situation is less encouraging for the cheese manufacturer, Valio, which produces about 85 percent of the Finnish exports hit by Russia's sanctions and has announced union talks over possible job cuts.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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