One of the first things that visitors always recognize when they come to Latvia is its food. Latvian food has received different types of influences from the countries in the Baltic region. In general, Latvian food historically depended on the creative cooking abilities that Latvians had to incorporate into their culture in order to face harsh conditions due to factors related to its climate and the occupation by countries such as the Soviet Union. Latvian food uses few spices, and is rather quite fatty. It tends to use locally grown products, and most of the products that visitors find in its cuisine are agricultural, with meat playing a very important place in most dishes. However, given the country’s location on the coast of the Baltic Sea, fish also plays a central role in the dietary needs of Latvian people. Some common products that visitors may find in Latvian dishes include potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs and pork.
This helps to understand why Latvian food industry is one of the strongest in the country. According to indicators of the World Bank for the year 2014, food exports are one of the main items in Latvian economy. These include food and live animals, beverages and tobacco, animal and vegetable oils and fats, oilseeds, oil nuts, oil kernels, among others. But to have a better perspective on how the food industry behaves in Latvia, particularly regarding its exports, the following list may be useful.
The dairy processing sector is usually recognized as one of the main actors in the food industry in Latvia. And this is not an accident. After all, it dominates the production of food and beverage products, with 23% of the total final output. Likewise, it is a sector of the food and beverage industry that shows a very high labour efficiency rate, since it has the second higher value-added indicator per employee in the country. For 2014, the dairy processing sector took second place in food export products, which turns it into one of the main exports sectors in Latvia. The dairy products more produced, and therefore, more exported are milk and cream.
Let us have some meat
Another strong sector in the food industry in Latvia, and directly connected with the previous one in many ways, is the meat industry. It is the second largest sector in the production of food and beverages in Latvia, after the dairy industry, with 20% of the total final output. It also shows a very high labour efficiency rate. In 2014, it had 4500 employees, which made it the third largest sector in the food and drink industry in Latvia.
Or perhaps you prefer some fish
The fisheries sector in Latvia is another strong sector of the economy in the country. It is a sector still considered traditional, at least regarding the fact that it is based on customs that have passed from one generation to the other, and the experience gained through these processes. Nonetheless, it is the largest food and drink industry in terms of its number of employees. For 2014, it occupied the first place with respect to the number of employees that were working in this industry. And in fact it is not very surprising to learn why this industry is so important for the country’s economy. After all, fishery products from Latvia are very popular in other countries. And this can explain why at least 75% of Latvian fishery products are taken for export.
Maybe you want to have some drink?
People need products to drink, that has always been clear, and the Latvian food industry has understood this topic very well. This sector is considered the most labour-effective one in the country, because it has the first place when it comes to value-added per one employee. This helps to understand why this sector is so important for Latvian food export. 12% of the total final output of the food and beverage industry in the country comes from this sector of the economy.
Bread and bakery for the soul
The bread and bakery industry is one the main industries in Latvia. According to indicators from 2014, this sector is the second largest employment provider in the food and beverage industry in the country. It also has the largest number of producers in the industry, with 288 producers.
Fine cuisine for you
Though traditionally seen as relying mostly on potatoes, Latvian cuisine is more than that nowadays. It still has many influences coming from the past, which serve as inspiration to mix them up, and based on that, create new dishes that may surprise everyone around the world. This helps to see why the Latvian fine food sector has developed in the way that it has done in recent years. It offers exclusive products that come from both industrial and small scale producers. And this is reflected in its performance regarding its labour-efficiency. After all, it has the third place in the food and beverage industry, once again with respect to value-added per one employee.