Lars Peder Brekk, former agriculture minister for the farmer-friendly Center Party, isn’t at all bothered that Norwegian pork growers are producing more meat than the Norwegian market can absorb, without the excess supply leading to lower prices for Norwegian consumers. Instead, the oversupply of meat is being sold cheaply to wholesalers in countries like the Ukraine.
Bacon prices at Norwegian grocery stores are still around three times higher than they are in Sweden, for example, even though pork is abundant in Norway. So abundant that the pork industry is characterized by overproduction that results in local farmers dumping their meat abroad.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported this week that pork producers in Norway have resorted to selling their meat for as low as NOK 10 per kilo (around USD 0.90 per pound) to Ukraine and Georgia. Norwegian market prices have declined slightly for some fresh meat, but processed pork including products like bacon remain artificially high given actual supply and demand.
Merete Furuberg, leader of an organization representing small farmers in Norway, criticized the dumping, contending that pork producers can too easily secure state support for increased production. Furuberg thinks policies should be reformed, to stimulate beef production, for example, instead of pork.
Brekk, who was replaced as agriculture minister earlier this year but still has a seat in Parliament for the party that relies on farmers as its main group of constituents, disagrees. He claimed that beef and other types of “dark meat” already get priority for support, and that pork has a strong tradition in the Norwegian diet.
“We must tolerate that the market is regulated (to keep domestic prices high for farmers) through the sale of products abroad,” Brekk told newspaper Aftenposten, comparing it to the import of butter and lamb, for example, when Norwegian supplies run short.
He said the farmers still pay the ultimate price for overproduction, when they sell their meat cheaply overseas. Food production is strictly regulated in Norway, with few if any free market principles prevailing, to support farmers and ensure food production.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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