Dairies launch new milk war

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Half-gallon (1.75-liter) milk cartons have finally arrived in Norway, and they’re proving popular indeed. Both dairy giant Tine and its much smaller rival Q-Meieriene introduced the larger cartons this month, and Q-dairies thinks it might now grab more of Tine’s market share.

These Norwegian cattle may not care where their meat or milk goes, but the local dairy challenger sure does. PHOTO: Views and News

There are only two milk producers in Norway, Tine and Q. For years, Tine had a monopoly and all dairy farmers in Norway’s heavily subsidized and protected agriculture industry delivered their milk to the cooperative. Q-milk finally challenged Tine’s dominance with slightly lower prices, but Tine continues to hold 85 percent of the market and Q’s market share has stood still the past few years, reports newspaper Aftenposten.

Q-Meieriene beat Tine to market with the new large carton by a few days and in more of Norway’s bigger cities, and now thinks its market share may go up to 25 percent. Sales have been double what Q-Meieriene expected and demand is so heavy that Q is running extra shifts to produce enough.

The general lack of the larger “economy-sized” products so common in other countries has been criticized, not least as a factor in why prices are so high in Norwegian grocery stores. The immediate popularity of Q’s larger milk cartons may lead to more larger sizes, but in the meantime Q officials are pleased. They’ve been the challenger in the Norwegian milk market, with studies showing that many buy Q milk simply because they want to support an alternative to Tine’s dominance, and now they’ve hit on something that’s literally big.

The studies also showed that voters from Norway’s more conservative parties tended to buy Q dairy products, while voters from the more socialists parties favoured Tine. This was most apparent among voters from the small and farmer-friendly Center Party, where only 6 percent bought Q-milk and 76 percent bought Tine milk – indicating that even buying milk in Norway can be a political act.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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