Sharp rise in food prices in Norway linked to lack of competition
Several everyday items in Norwegian supermarkets from sausages to milk have jumped in price this month. The Consumer Council has said that the rises are a sign of a lack of competition in the Norwegian grocery market.
Since the beginning of February, many everyday items in supermarkets have increased by 10 percent or more, public broadcaster NRK has reported.
NRK compared prices of several items from different supermarkets before and after the turn of the month.
Beer, cheese, butter, sausages, soda, porridge oats and kitchen roll were among the household essentials to receive a price hike.
Some products, such as shrimp salad—a popular pålegg, or sandwich spread-- rose in price by as much as 40 percent.
Online news site Nettavisen has also reported steep price rises in February. Supermarkets in Norway typically adjust their prices twice a year, once in February and then once again in July.
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The Consumer Council, which advocates consumer rights, has said that the significant price hikes are due to a lack of competition.
“The competition in the Norwegian food market is obviously too bad. It has been for a long time, and it is documented here (through reports of price hikes), Inger Lise Blyverket, director of the Consumer Council, told public broadcaster NRK.
She said that the lack of choice made it hard for consumers to vote with their feet and opt for cheaper alternatives.
“This makes it impossible for us to exercise our power as consumers, by choosing cheaper alternatives. When chains and other players in the grocery industry claim there is fierce competition, it isn’t true. Tough measures are needed,” Blyverket said.
Director of the Consumer Council, Blyverket, said that the price rises are a bitter pill to swallow, especially given that supermarkets turnovers increased sharply during the pandemic.
However, supermarkets have said they’ve been forced to raise prices as suppliers are charging more than before due to several factors.
Higher raw material prices internationally, increased shipping costs, high electricity prices, and Norwegian agriculture raising the prices of their products have meant suppliers have passed the cost onto supermarkets, which supermarkets, in turn, pass onto customers.
However, some have said that supermarkets are raising their prices beyond the additional costs passed on by suppliers.
“They (the suppliers) have found that prices in grocery stores are increasing more than the additional costs that grocery chains are paying for products,” Sigurd Birkeland, from the Norwegian Competition Authority, told NRK.