Debate simmers over food prices
January 19, 2011
Shopping at a Norwegian grocery store can still be an expensive affair, but state statistics show food prices in Norway declined last year for the first time since 1998. While some meat prices fell, however, seafood and produce prices have jumped.
That has set off concerns that healthy food costs more, meaning that Norwegian food price development is going against the grain of health officials’ advice and desires. The price of cod, for example, has climbed 48.8 percent since 1998, reports newspaper Aftenposten, while ground beef prices fell 3.4 percent last year.
“We know that price means a lot for people when they’re shopping,” nutrition expert Camilla Andersen told Aftenposten. She said food price trends in Norway defy social welfare goals.
Nutritionists and health care officials want Norwegians to eat more fruit and vegetables and lean foods like fish. Instead, figures from state statistics bureau SSB show that prices for seafood in general rose 28 percent over the last 12 years, for example.
“It’s actually not good that the price of meat is falling when it’s much healthier to eat fish,” Bjørn Takle Friis of grocery retailer ICA Norge told Aftenposten. It’s not easy to be health-conscious, he noted, when pork ribs cost NOK 14.90 per kilo at the market and fish costs as much as NOK 150 per kilo.
Dairy products, meanwhile, also have risen steadily in recent years, with milk, yoghurt and cream up another 3.7 percent last year. The price of butter has risen 64 percent since 1998, when SSB’s calculations began.
Health officials maintained it’s still possible to eat well and avoid high prices. They recommend swapping meat with more vegetables like beans, celery root and carrots, and to eat more fish and whole-grain bread.
They also recommend using leftovers of fried fish, for example, in scrambled eggs or on sandwiches, and claimed that plain water is the best thirst-quencher.