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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Consumer council opposes higher cheese tariffs

Norway’s consumer council Forbrukerrådet opposes an attempt by Norwegian dairy cooperative Tine to protect itself from competition by boosting import tariffs on foreign cheese.

Tine officials have said they plan to ask state officials to recalculate tariffs to protect the market for Norwegian cheese. The new tariffs would make imported cheeses such as Cheddar, Gruyére and Gouda more expensive and thus make Norwegian consumers more likely to buy Tine’s Jarlsberg and Norvegia cheese.

Tine already has backed down on efforts to do the same for soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert, after immediate objections when their plans became known. But Tine reportedly is pursuing efforts to block competition from other foreign rivals, even though Tine’s sales of Jarlsberg and Norvegia logged double-digit increases last year and even though Tine enjoys export subsidies to sell its own cheeses at reduced rates in foreign markets.

Public sentiment towards Tine has soured markedly in the past year, after poor planning led to a severe butter shortage in Norway and because of repeated efforts to exploit its market dominance at the expense of its customers. Even several politicians known for supporting protectionist policies and Norwegian agriculture have criticized Tine in recent weeks.

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