Norwegians pay more than neighbors

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A recent report from the government food chain assessment committee (Matkjedeutvalget) shows that  Norwegians pay 23 percent more for their food and staple goods than Swedes. The steep price of local agricultural commodities, coupled with high purchase cost on international goods allows merchants to jack up the prices on the remaining goods in order to turn a profit in Norwegian convenience stores – and they get away with it because Norwegians aren’t price conscious.

For more than one reason, Norwegian consumers pay much more for staple goods than their Swedish and Danish counterparts. PHOTO: Kjetil Ree

“Norwegian agricultural policy helps keep the cost of Norwegian produce high,” Christian Rygh, of the Norwegian Agricultural Authoriy, told newspaper Aftenposten. “This also gives stores the opportunity to raise prices on goods there is no duty on. Coffee and tea are more expensive in Norway than in Sweden,” he adds.

The food chain assessment report also examines the comparative retail price of international goods in Sweden and Norway. The discrepancy is great, and though some of this can be blamed on currency levels, high transport costs and taxes, some believe it is because international suppliers know Norwegians are good for it. “Suppliers of international brands look at purchasing power in the country when setting their prices. It is quite logical that global actors would have different views on the individual European countries,” Per Roskifte, communications director of major store chain Norgesgruppen, told Aftenposten.

Other merchants also confirm that the price of one commodity can vary depending on whether it has been sold to a Norwegian, Danish or Swedish store. Prices of certain goods, particularly hygiene products such as shampoo, toothpaste and soap, can be up to 50 percent higher in Norway. “Norwegians concern themselves with prices, but not so much when they are shopping in Norway. Furthermore, shampoo is a fairly small product that does not cost much and they might not even notice,” Randi Lavik, researcher with the National Institute for Consumer Research, told Aftenposten.

International suppliers disagree with the notion that they set prices higher for Norwegians. “Absolutely not,” said administrative director Alexander Throne-Holst of Unilever Norway. In his opinion, prices are higher in Norway because small grocery stores pop up on every corner and this adds to distribution and salary costs. These shops are more expensive to run and are less profitable than major chain locations. “In other countries, convenience store chains would require their customers to travel a bit further to shop.”

Views and News from Norway/Liv Buli
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