Butter crisis exposes ‘Soviet conditions’

Norway’s butter crisis has prompted severe criticism of the country's dairy system, as consumers grapple with shortages that an Oslo management school dean has likened to conditions in the Soviet Union.

Butter crisis exposes 'Soviet conditions'
Photo: Oslo School of Management

Trond Blindheim, dean of the Oslo School of Management, made his comments after 40 percent of respondents in a Sentio survey published by newspaper Nationen said they had formed a more negative view of dairy giant Tine in the wake of the butter shortages.

The butter shortfall had been avoidable, Blindheim said, adding that Tine’s failure to avert the situation could eventually lead to its downfall.

“The system we have today, in which Tine more or less has a monopoly on dairy products, is the kind of system they had in the 1920s.”
Referring to what he described as the “Soviet conditions” that have prevailed this autumn, with butter absent from supermarket shelves, Blindheim said voices calling for free market reform in the dairy sector were gradually succeeding in getting their message across.

“A lot of people would probably say that Tine is living on borrowed time. The way things are now, the situation benefits producers but not consumers,” he told Nationen.

Tine spokesman Øystein Knoph said the company understood that consumers felt let down by the company.

“The dip in confidence is deserved, and we’re not surprised people are disappointed and irritated.

“The butter shortage is regrettable and should have been avoided. We are critical of our own failure to fully foresee the combined effect of reduced milk supply and a major increase in demand for butter,” said Knoph.

Tine could at least take some comfort from the fact that eight out of ten people surveyed by Sentio said they had not felt personally affected by the butter shortfall.

The lack of butter in Norway has been attributed to a mixture of rising demand amid a high-fat diet fad, and a drop in the supply of raw milk after a wet summer led to lower feed production.

Prohibitively high tariffs on the import of butter have also made foreign dairies disinclined to enter the Norwegian market.

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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.