Norwegian foods are the most expensive in Europe

Grocery store Price Test food price wagesGrocery Store. Photo: Norway Today Media

In 2018, Norway had Europe’s highest price level for food and non-alcoholic beverages. The price level was 63 % above the EU average and 40 % above Sweden.

Among other things, prices for dairy products, eggs, vegetables and cereals were significantly higher than the average for the 28 EU countries, according to Statistics Norway.

The figures appear in the European Purchasing Power Survey, which was recently published by Eurostat.

Behind Norway follows Switzerland. Here, the price level for food and non-alcoholic beverages was 60 % above the EU average.

Despite high price levels, Norwegian households use a relatively low proportion of total consumption of food and non-alcoholic beverages. This percentage was 11 % in 2018, according to the National Accounts and has gradually declined from 16 % in 1995.

Among the 37 countries surveyed, the average share of expenditure is 18 %. Only six countries had a lower expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages than Norway.

Dairy products on top

But the prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages are thus significantly higher in Norway than in the rest of the Nordic countries. The Norwegian price level is 40 % higher than in Sweden, 25 % higher than in Denmark, 36 % higher than in Finland and 10 % higher than in Iceland.

Moreover, Norwegian food prices were among Europe’s highest for a number of food groups. The price levels for the groups “milk, cheese and eggs”, “bread and cereals” and “fruits and vegetables” were 74.67 and 58 % above the EU average respectively.

Norwegian meat prices were 55 % above the EU average but were still significantly lower than in Switzerland (128 %) and somewhat lower than in Iceland (65 %).

“Fish and seafood” is the food group where Norway was close to the rest of Europe’s price level – only 9 % above the 28 EU countries.

Denmark most expensive in the EU

The cheapest foods and non-alcoholic beverages can be found in Northern Macedonia. The price level was 62 % of the EU average equating to 40 % of Norway’s price level in 2018.

Among the EU countries, Denmark had the highest price level for food and non-alcoholic beverages, 30 % above EU28.

The cheapest EU countries were Bulgaria, Poland and Romania. Here the price level was 24 to 34 % below the EU average.

Why are foods so expensive in Norway?

  • Norway is, generally speaking, a high cost country.  Housing, transport and salaries are main contributors to this.
  • Subsidies. Norwegian farmers are subsidised by the government. This, ostensibly, in order to have an agriculture to enable, among other things, a level of selfsufiency and ensuring that people can live of farms in remote locations.
  • Markup and competition. There are few competitors in the market. The 3 large chains: Norgesgruppen, Rema and Coop are dominating retail. Similarly, Nortura and Gilde dominate on meat, Tine on dairy products. Orkla dominate on processed food.
  • Import tolls. Many products have high import tolls in order to protect Norwegian produce. Meat and cheese are prominent examples.
  • Fees. There are high fees on many products, such as alcohol, tobacco, sugar and fuel. Road tolls is also a factor to be counted in.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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4 Comments on "Norwegian foods are the most expensive in Europe"

  1. It would be nice to know WHY Norwegian foods are the most expensive in Europe. Could you report on that also? Is it because Norwegian supermarkets have too much power to set prices? Also why is that, compared to other countries, there isn’t even much variety in products available?

  2. Thanks!

  3. Margo Arnesen | 24. September 2019 at 17:43 |

    Curious. So if I pay $2.40 for a gallon of whole milk and $2.50 for a dozen hormone free eggs in Texas, what would you pay for that in Norway? My figures obviously in USD.

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