– Price development in Europe is much faster and more powerful than it is in Norway, says agricultural researcher Ivar Pettersen in Alo-Analyze.
The prices of vegetables are rising both in Europe and at home, largely due to increased prices for input factors such as electricity and fertilizer.
Men high from Eurostat which Alo analysis has obtained, shows that the prices of vegetables in the euro area in the last year to march increased more than here at home.
While the Euro area experienced an increase of 9.5 per cent, prices increased by only 0.3 per cent in Norway.
– In Norway, we have only a small fraction of the price increase that we see in vegetables in Europe now, the researcher explains, and refers to p.the rise in rice in the euro area was thirty times as high as in norway.
Prices will also rise in Norway
And now the season starts at home in Norway. At the salad producer Bjertnæs & Hoel in Vestfold, they started harvesting coleslaw this week.
– It has been quite cold. It has been freezing, so it has been a little slower than expected, he says Henrik Raastad Hoel, who is responsible for purchasing and sales, as the white cloth is taken from the vegetables of the family business that has been going on for generations.
But they also notice that the prices of “everything” are rising. It has become more expensive with fertilizer, energy, packaging and labor.
– The vegetables will be somewhat more expensive, says the salad farmer and points out that the agricultural settlement only covers one third of the price increase. The open market in the green industry means that one third must be covered by the market, and the last share must be streamlined away.
But precisely because prices elsewhere in Europe have generally been lower, prices also hit foreign vegetables harder.
– It increases from a lower level. So that when fertilizer prices and the like go up, and the fertilizer goes up as much in Europe as here, the percentage has a much stronger effect on foreign goods, explains researcher Ivar Pettersen.
He also points out that the Norwegian system of agricultural agreements, adjustment of customs protection and the like limits the rise in prices for Norwegian products.
– I think we can easily get to the point where Norwegian prices are competitive with international prices, the researcher says.
Lack of salad in Europe
When it comes to the price of lettuce, some weather conditions in Europe affect it.
At the start of the Norwegian season, there has been a shortage of both coleslaw and other salads in Europe, especially in Spain. Many demand the product, and part of the reason for the lack of lettuce is a sandstorm from the Sahara, according to the Norwegian Directorate of Agriculture.
And precisely the salad that is produced in the field here in Vestfold, is one of the most important items right now.
– Hititl this year there is not much Norwegian production, it is the storage goods from last year, but it is in the future now we really deliver new Norwegian great goods into the market, says Kai Knutsen, acting general manager of Gartnerhallen.
They represent 1000 Norwegian producers in fruit, vegetables, berries and potatoes:
– Do you expect that the prices between Norwegian vegetables and those we importers will approach each other?
– I think at least that the Norwegian prices through this season will be quite stable and what we are perhaps most concerned about is that the Norwegian consumer wants to buy Norwegian goods, he says.
He emphasizes that it is extra important to be skilled in import and international production, as the green industry makes up a small proportion of the agricultural settlement.
– Our industry is 90 percent financed through the market and that means that we get our income by actually selling the goods without any special subsidies, he explains.
The Norwegian iceberg lettuce is cheaper
At the family business in Vestfold, they also produce iceberg lettuce. Next week it is also on its way to the shops.
The iceberg lettuce is among the vegetables that are now cheaper than the imported one.
In Alo-Analysis, they have compared the average for weeks 25 to 30 last year. At that time, the Norwegian price was NOK 10.07 per producer, while the import price in the same period was NOK 12.42. The Norwegian salad was thus 23 percent cheaper than the imported one with customs duty.
– If we remove tariffs, there is something left, but we are approaching a situation where the Norwegian price without tariffs can be on a par with prices in Europe, explains researcher Ivar Pettersen.
Assuming that this price difference between Norwegian iceberg and imported develops as the price difference between vegetables in general in the Euro area and Norway in the last twelve months, the price disadvantage for Norwegian iceberg will be reduced by about a third in the next twelve months, according to Alo analysis.
– If the relative price development continues as it is now, the price differences between Norway and the Euro area can be turned into a discount for Norwegian products, the researcher explains.
At the Norwegian Directorate of Agriculture, they are following price increases in Europe closely.
Due to high prices in Europe, the Norwegian tariff rate has been reduced to 0 on just iceberg lettuce recently. It has been duty-free to import iceberg lettuce until and including 10 May.
Cheaper with Norwegian potatoes
For potatoes, Norwegian prices fell by 1.1 per cent in the twelve-month period, while they rose by 9.4 per cent in the Euro area.
– This means that we only need a relatively moderate difference in inflation before Norwegian prices are lower than import prices before customs. If the price increase continues as last month, Norwegian potatoes will be close to 5 percent cheaper than imported potatoes without customs duties, in a year, the researcher says.
Also in a longer perspective, the figures from Eurostat show that foreign prices are rising more than Norwegian ones.
From 2015 to the end of March 2022, the prices of vegetables have increased more than twice as much in the Euro area as in Norway.
Hope people will choose Norwegian goods
Back at the family farm Bjertnæs and Hoel, they hope people will choose their ingredients.
Since 1956, the family has run the land here. It was the family who were on a study trip in Italy and were served a delicious lunch with coleslaw for lunch. The seeds were ordered, and in 1999 the first coleslaw in Norway was pulled from the ground.
And here, too, they believe prices between Norway and Europe will level off more as the years go by:
– Because when prices abroad increase more than in Norway, there may be something to indicate that. But a salad is not a salad. In Spain there are other types of salads and specifications. Norway is very demanding on quality and that raises prices somewhat in relation to accepting lower quality standards, he says who thinks people choose Norwegian even though prices increase here as well.
The most important thing now is to ensure a good Norwegian season. They go to great lengths to ensure that it has the best possible quality.
– So far it looks good. But now we will have a season until October and a lot can happen on the road, the salad farmer, who says in a slightly more stable season than last year.