External comments: This is a discussion article. Analysis and the author’s point of view.
I love broccoli, but in the past six months I’ve started to doubt whether the feeling is mutual. Doubts began surfacing in February. Then the cauliflower rose from 9 kroner to 15 kroner. This summer, the price has risen again to 25 NOK. I stood in front of the vegetable counter at the local Rima, staring disappointedly at the cauliflower, thinking that this relationship was precarious.
I ate broccoli Did she fall in love with hate, or did she make herself expensive, 177 percent more expensive in half a year? The problem with broccoli is that it doesn’t benefit from making itself expensive. She risks ruining the relationship. I took a trip to Extra, but the situation was the same there, 25 NOK for broccoli. I felt betrayed, not to mention a plot.
Now I must Added that broccoli does not have free will. The price is set by Rema, Extra and Kiwi, who add what they think is appropriate, after the supplier and the farmer receive their share. The price increases officially come twice a year, in February and July, after the chains’ negotiations with suppliers such as Orkla, Bama, Tine and Nortura.
Many media outlets mark these increases by purchasing a selection of items before and after the date. When Nettavisen did this work earlier this summer, they found a wide range of percentage increases in the 30 or so items, but for all three chains, the total cart saw a price increase of about 17 percent. Broccoli stands out, but when ground beef and butter rise by more than 20 percent, many people are probably surprised.
You may wonder Also on why the three chains’ shopping baskets are up 17 percent, but that’s another conspiracy debate. As everyone has noted, inflation has skyrocketed. The June CPI gave us a 6.3 per cent increase in prices over the past year. Rising prices for raw materials, electricity, and fuel increased the costs of food production, which led to higher prices. Food prices increased by 5.7 percent last year, but in the May-June period the increase was 2.0 percent. This is an unusually large increase in June, according to Statistics Norway, with price jumps tending to occur in February and July. We can’t help but look forward to the July numbers arriving in mid-August.
past six months Both food chains and suppliers have worked to keep our consumers satisfied, so that price increases do not come as a shock. They talked about wheat, sunflower oil, fuel and energy prices. It’s an emergency, they can report it, and they see no other option but to “pass on” the additional costs to their customers.
Dagens Næringsliv was recently able to report that Odd Reitan and his two sons took 1.5 billion in profits in 2021. The Reitan family owns Rema, and together with Norgesgruppen and Coop dominate the grocery industry. Every year, the chains bring in huge profits of billions. During the pandemic, things have gone very well.
This is the background As I stand there in Rima, surrounded by ripe vegetables whose price keeps growing. Broccoli looks like a green brain. I hold it in front of me: to buy or not to buy, that is the question.
When the prices go up, I start arguing with fictional characters. First with vegetables and other commodities that have been subjected to “burnt” inflation. Then with the cheerful woman when out in Rima. Ask if it is possible to bargain. She looks at me curiously, so I say that since Rema “passed” the cost increase to me to maintain its profit margin, can I return some of the price increase to Rema? She answers that she is not the one who sets the price. I asked her if she had Odd Reitan’s number. “whose?” “Forget it,” I say, pulling out the Visa card.
Not She often talks about Raytan and her owners. When journalists ask why the price of apples went to bananas, the answer usually comes from the director of communications and community relations, preferably via email, since answering specific and critical questions directly is rarely profitable for food chains. They prefer to answer in general terms about how hard it is to work to keep prices low.
But as a fictional character, Reitan is always available. So I called him and asked him about the price of cauliflower. He answers a little evasively at first, and says it’s not “practical” these days. Tell him that broccoli is becoming increasingly expensive. It has risen 177 percent since last winter. Can I pay some of this cost to Rema?
Raytan says I misunderstood how this works. What I can do, he says, is ask my employer for a raise. He asks where do I work. I answer:
“Suppose I work in the maintenance office in Rima.”
“Eh… you say that, yes.”
“Can I ask you directly? About the salary increase I mean. As soon as I’m on the line, let it charge.”
“Yeah, why not, I’m the jovial type.”
“Beloved. Then I would like to get a salary increase corresponding to the 17 percent that increased my cart by the end of the month in July.”
“17 per cent? Are you crazy?”
“Or I could ask for a 177 percent, so-called broccoli supplement.”
“Dude, now I’m getting another phone call here.”
I expect Raytan and I to have another conversation when the July price increase is announced in a couple of weeks.
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