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OFFBEAT

Norwegians bidding for black market butter

As Norway’s butter shortage takes on ever more absurd proportions, one man in Lillehammer claims to have been offered 3,000 kroner ($515) for half a kilo of “almost unused” butter.

Norwegians bidding for black market butter
Photo: MDG/Tine

Lars Giæver, a local Green Party politician, placed an ad on buy-and-sell site finn.no on November 30th, just as Norwegians really began to fear the spectre of a butter-free Christmas, news website gd.no reports.

Seeking out the highest bidder, his ad promised a Yuletide status boost for the eventual recipient.  

“Real Norwegian butter. Almost unused! Suits any occasion, whether you want to bake or have guests around for porridge. This is a unique product with special qualities. You won’t find it in stores. Be the envy of your friends. Get the smoothest Christmas accessory on your street!”

Giæver said he posted the ad as a joke, never actually intending to sell his treasured stash, but he has had his fair share of serious responses.

“One person was willing to pay 3,000 kroner; another wanted to pay it off in instalments,” he told gd.no.

Giæver said he found it ludicrous that the butter shortage was being viewed as a crisis situation considering the real drama facing several debt-ridden nations across Europe. Anybody responding to his advert has instead received instructions on how to make their own butter.

Unlike Giæver, however, many people really are keen to make some pre-holiday money by auctioning their butter online.

"I want 800 kronor, at least. Then I can give 400 kronor to each of my children's sports teams," one would-be butter vendor, Tove Li, told Norwegian paper Verdens Gang (VG).

But the black market butter isn't just draining consumers of money, it might also be a health hazard, according to Atle Wold at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

"Food should be purchased from professional and safe vendors, not in a private environment," Wold told VG.

For Norwegians living close to Sweden, the benefits of cross-border grocery shopping have rarely seemed so great. But Swedish exporters remain less than enamoured with what they view as unnecessary barriers to trade with their nearest neighbour.

"They (Norway) have, as we see it, very restrictive trading politics, borderline protectionist," Jonas Carlberg at the Swedish Dairy Association (Svensk Mjölk), told daily Dagens Nyheter, adding that high tariffs were a way to protect domestic production in Norway.

On Friday, a Russian man was caught trying to bring 90 kilos of butter over the Swedish border to Norway. Having failed to pay duty on the goods, he was forced to hand over the precious consignment to customs officials.

The butter shortfall, expected to last into January, amounts to between 500 and 1,000 tonnes, said Tine, Norway's main dairy company.

The dire shortage poses a serious challenge for Norwegians who are trying to finish their traditional Christmas baking — a task which usually requires them to make at least seven different kinds of biscuits.

The shortfall has been blamed on a rainy summer that cut into feed production and therefore dairy output, but also the ballooning popularity of a low-carbohydrate, fat-rich diet that has sent demand for butter soaring.

"Compared to 2010, demand has grown by as much as 30 percent," Tine spokesman Lars Galtung told AFP.

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OFFBEAT

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration will need to clear up more than 1,000 trucks worth of stones and rubble it left near the stunning UNESCO world heritage listed Nærøyfjord.

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord
Nærøyfjorden near to where the Norwegian Public Roads Administration left behind more than 11,000 cubic metres of rocks. Photo by Arian Zwegers on Flickr.

Fly-tipping and rubbish dumping are typically associated with rogue tradespeople and cowboy builders, but it’s the Norwegian Public Roads Administration that is being asked to clear some 11,250 cubic metres of rocks it left near a UNESCO listed beauty spot.

The breathtaking Nærøyfjord in Aurland municipality, south-western Norway, is a landscape conservation area meaning its protected and, therefore, the rubble shouldn’t have been left there.

“This is a blister. We will clean up after ourselves,” Stig Berg Thomassen, project manager for the road authority, told NRK.

The rocks were left behind following a project to upgrade the nearby Gudvanga tunnel.

Thomassen said the mess was left in the conservation area because it wasn’t clearly marked as off-limits.

Nærøyfjorden has been listed as a landscape conservation area since 2002, and the site was added to the UNESCO world heritage list a few years later in 2005.

READ ALSO: You can now get married at this famous Norwegian beauty spot

The municipality in Aurland has given the road authority until December 17th to clear the mess. The mayor for the municipality said the road authority would begin to clear up the remnants of its building project as soon as possible.

The stones won’t be going far, though and will only be moved around 50 to 100 metres along the road to where the conservation area ends.

Project manager Thomassen has admitted that the situation could have been avoided with better planning.

“Yes, we should have probably have done that (prepared better). The situation is as it is, so we just have to clean up. It won’t take long to move the rocks. The Stones will only be transported 50 to 100 meters,” he confessed.

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