Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Prices Beyond Compare

At current exchange rates, these cans of condensed milk cost close to 6 pounds each. They were photographed in an ordinary mid-size Norwegian supermarket with no special opening hours etc. In the UK, Tesco and Asda are selling the same product for 1 pound.

Sadly this is not untypical of the cost of food purchasing in Norway. A friend suggested to me the other day that supermarkets in Norway operate a sort of cartel where prices are fixed and incomers like Lidl are forced out of the market.

This article from the Aftenposten newspaper published back in 2008 suggests that : "Local retailers who feared Lidl would give them tough competition did all they could to thwart the German giant's entry into Norway. Local politicians often seemed to help make things difficult for Lidl, such as refusing to grant zoning requests or allowing the chain's free-standing stores to be built."

Not only are prices highly uncompetitive, but perishable foods are often poorly stock-managed and we frequently find ourselves with products that have gone out of date. Little has changed since I was here as a student twenty years ago, scraping along on a student grant and living off baked beans and digestive biscuits that had cost me the same as a meal in a UK restaurant.

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