Norway's Competition Authority investigates fruit and vegetable market competition

The Norwegian Competition Authority now has additional resources which it will use to monitor competition in the food sector. The 'supermarket project' special group is investigating competition in the fruit and vegetable market, confirmed the head of this group, Sigurd Birkeland.

The Competition Authority requested information. It did so in documents sent to various fruit and vegetable buyers and sellers. The competition authority is prepared to take measures to promote competition in the fruit and vegetable market. That's if the research shows there's a need for this.

Potential anti-competitive behavior
Birkeland says the project is just getting started. It has three people working on it. "This is a large, important food industry category. It includes specific products. We want to know what it means for the industry when chains organize their fruit and vegetable purchases through large purchasing partnerships."

"We're setting it up broadly. We want to hear from large and small parties. How do they experience the fruit and vegetable market? We also to find out more about how the market works."

"We'll use that data internally. But, of course, we'll also want to look at whether there are any anti-competitive elements or other types of behavior that may affect competition," says Bierkenland. 

What the Authority wants to know
Within the sector, the Rema and Norgesgruppen chains stores are partners. They buy fruit and vegetables via the wholesaler, Bama. Coop's purchasing is integrated within the company.

These parties must give the Competition Authority specific data about fruit and vegetables. This is general business information and client and partner information. They must also provide financial information. Individual parties have also been asked more specific questions regarding their market share.

For example, the group asked Bama about the fruit and vegetable cooperative, Grøntprodusentenes Samarbeidsråd. What significance does its weekly price advice have on the company's purchasing conditions?

And would be relevant to serve other industry clients? That's in addition to their current clients. Grøntprodusentenes Samarbeidsråd consists of vegetable growers who advise buyers. They tell them how much a product should cost. So, growers get good prices for their wares.

Rema and Norgesgruppen were asked if it's relevant for them to set up their own fruit and vegetable wholesalers.

All parties had to reply by 26 November.


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