YLE revealed that on 1 June 2023, not a single Thai worker had been confirmed to come to the country for the upcoming picking season, following changes in visa procedures.
“We felt that we have to re-examine our procedures. The police investigations came to light last summer, (referring to the criminal prosecutions and human trafficking suspicions that happened in 2022) and this is the first picking season since that,” Katja Luopajärvi, the deputy head of the visa unit at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The updated visa measure is that Thai workers must have both a Schengen visa and a so-called exit visa that enables them to leave Thailand, according to Helsinki Times.
However, “The latest information indicates that not a single visa has been granted yet. This is absolutely incomprehensible. At one point, it was looking like things would start rolling, but in practice there’s hardly any movement,” Birgitta Partanen, the executive director of Arctic Flavours, told YLE.
This slow progress in recruiting Thai berry pickers could significantly impact the berry industry, added Partenen. He said,
“It’d mean that quite a few companies will go bankrupt. I’m hoping until the last minute that won’t happen,” she said, expressing her hope that the pre-trial investigations that have rocked the industry are conducted without any undue delay. “If some mistakes have been made, we could get to rectifying them.”