Cabbage prices in stores are up 40 percent from last year, but farmer Anders Horth has not been paid better for this.
Cabbage is the food item whose price has increased significantly over the past 12 months, according to the latest CPI update by Statistics Norway.
It shows that the total price of all kinds of cabbage was 40.1 percent higher in March than a year earlier.
Fresh salmon/trout are second and third (33.5 percent more expensive) and watermelon (31.9 percent more expensive).
– I understand that the players in the food value chain should have been paying when they themselves have been getting incremental costs. But I think it’s a pity that it can badly affect a product so cheap, says Anders Horth.
In addition to being a cabbage grower, he is the chief cabbage cultural officer at Gartnerhallen Samvirkelag. This means that it helps determine what kind of price level cabbage should be in Norway.
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I followed the target price
Horth says a 40 percent price increase farmers don’t recognize.
– We managed to stay very close to our target price and achieved a price increase with the product of 10 percent. At the same time, we also have an increase in costs.
In the annual agricultural settlement, so-called target prices are reached for a number of commodities, including a selection of vegetables.
The system must protect consumers while at the same time ensuring stable and relatively equal prices for the country’s farmers.
Statistics on the website of the Green Producers Cooperative Council show that quote prices, that is, the price charged by the average cabbage grower, have followed the target price very closely recently.
– This means that we did what we were encouraged to do in the agricultural agreement. And that’s pretty good, says Horth.
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The store price can not be controlled
Prices in Statistics Norway’s Consumer Price Index are consumer prices, i.e. what a person who buys cabbage in a store pays.
Statistics show that the price of cabbage has only recently increased.
Hørthe believes that the previously low price of cabbage may be an explanation for why it tops the list for the largest percentage increases.
– If an item used to cost NOK 20 and now costs NOK 24, it increases by 20 percent. So when you have a profit margin based on the evolution of cost in the value chain, it can have a significant impact on the cheapest goods.
He maintains that neither he nor the other farmers have any direct authority over the retail price.
– It is the dealer who decides which prices are set at any time. There is a lot of mutual support out there. For example, cabbage sells at an unusually high price during the mutton cabbage season, for less than what the producer gets. Store prices are not something I can or should control.
– Do you think it’s okay to have a consumer price increase of 40 percent when you don’t have the same?
– It’s a little weird. It could be that they had extraordinary campaigns last year and that’s why it looked so ugly back then.
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E24 has asked several grocery chains about the reasons for the low cabbage prices.
Only Norgesgruppen, which is behind chains like Kiwi and Meny, has offered an explanation.
Bård Gultvedt, Director of Business Policy and Government Relations, stresses that vegetable prices vary depending on a number of reasons, such as the fact that there may be a price war over certain commodities.
Other reasons for rising and falling prices are currency fluctuations and weather-related production conditions. Last year at the same time, there was a fierce price war on cabbage, and the prices were abnormally low. Prices are normal now, but for example new imported cabbage is much more expensive due to the weakness of the Norwegian krone.
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