Norwegians go bananas at Systembolaget

Wine Vinmonopolet SystembolagetWine: available at the Wine monopoly only. Photo: Norway Today Media

Norwegians amok at Systembolaget – Extreme figures

The wine and liquor suppliers’ association (VBF) has calculated Norwegians’ alcohol purchases at Systembolaget: The sales of wine is 1,718 per cent above the average Swedish municipality in Strømstad near the Norwegian border. This according to Dagbladet.


If your friends more and more often have a little different wine than you know about at a party, the likelihood is bigger that they have been in Sweden than that they have chosen something extra from the special delivery list at Vinmonopolet (Norwegian Wine Monopoly).

In recent years, the border trade has skyrocketed. How much Norwegians spend in Swedish grocery stores and on e-commerce, is a frequently discussed matter. The amount of wine and liquor we are buying at Systembolaget is known to a lesser degree.

Millions of litres across the border

10.1 million litres of beer and spirits. This is the amount we buy at Systembolaget (Swedish Wine Monopoly) every year, according to the Association of Wine and Liquor Distributors (VBF). The actual figure is perhaps even larger.

The association has studied the difference between the volume actually sold along the Norwegian border and the volume that would have been sold if the municipalities had been around the Swedish average.

1,718 per cent above average

At the top of the top ten list is Strømstad, where the sale of pure alcohol is 1,511 per cent, sales of wine 1,718 per cent and sales of spirits 1,371 per cent above the Swedish average municipality.

That there may be Swedes drinking far more than the average in these municipalities can not explain the huge turnover.

– These are extreme figures. They among other things entail that every adult citizen in Strømstad is drinking 441 litres of wine a year, Jordheim says to Dagbladet.

Corresponding figures for residents over 15 years in Stockholm are 29.5 litres.

The other municipalities where Systembolaget sells large amounts are Eda, Åre Storuman, Årjäng, Haparanda, Härjedalen, Malung-Sälen, Arjeplog and Älvdalen.

None of those places is far away from Norway.

13 per cent of sales to Sweden

In total, Norwegians buy wine and spirits for two billion Norwegian crowns in Sweden, according to VBF.

The amount corresponds to 13 per cent of Vinmonopolet’s annual sales of wine and spirits – which disappears over the border.

The wine and liquor suppliers’ association believes the taxes in Norway threaten Vinmonopolet, Norwegian jobs and value creation.

– It is not certain that all the litres would have been sold in Norway. Some might not buy wine or liquor at Norwegian prices. The scope is nevertheless enormous, she says.

The treasury also loses out. The value of alcohol for around NOK two billion entail an annual loss of NOK 1.2 billion for the Norwegian treasury in taxes and fees.

Head of Communications and Corporate Responsibility at Vinmonopolet, Halvor Bing Lorentzen, is not surprised by the figures. Vinmonopolet suspects that the border trade has increased after introduction of the sugar tax, but lacks actual sales figures from border stores to prove this.

– From a public health perspective, we worry because we do not have a good overview of the total alcohol consumption in Norway, says Bing Lorentzen.

Yes, we adore Sweden

The calculations from VBF on Norwegians’ alcohol purchases are based on figures from 2015, a year when Norwegians according to Statistics Norway (SSB) traded for NOK 14.1 billion on day trips abroad in 2015.

Since then, border trade has risen sharply. According to the Swedish Trade website, Norwegians spent NOK 25.6 billion in Sweden last year.

Statistics Norway’s figures are more modest. They estimate that we traded for NOK 15.1 billion abroad from Q2 2017 to Q1 2018. This corresponds to an increase in cross-border trade of 9.1 per cent.

The fact that we are increasingly taking our car to shop in Sweden can not be doubted. The number of cross-border day trips increased by 11 per cent in the same period.

Systembolaget hide figures

– We would like to have sales figures for 2016 and 2017, but we no longer get hold of them. Systembolaget no longer publishes them, says Jordheim

VBF has asked both the Vinmonopolet and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to assist in obtaining sales statistics from Systembolaget.

– We have convened a meeting with the ministry this week and hope for a breakthrough. This is even important health information, says Jordheim.

She believes the figures show that the limit has been reached.

– The minimum that should be done is to review the extra taxes and fees levied from the food and beverage sector. These fees must be targeted better both from a public health point of view and regarding revenues for the Norwegian treasury.


© Dagbladet / #Norway Today