Increased efforts can improve competition in the grocery market

A new parliamentary report proposes several measures that together can strengthen competition and provide a better outcome for Norwegian consumers.
Competition in the grocery market is not as strong as it could and ought to have been. The government today presented a parliamentary report on the grocery market, expressing concerns about the competitive situation in that market. The Competition Authority shares these concerns and believes that the measures proposed in the report viewed as a whole can improve competition.

Strengthening of the Competition Authority
The measures proposed in the parliamentary report entail a continued strong focus on the Competition Act as a means of promoting competition in the grocery market. The government wants, among other things, a permanent strengthening of the Competition Authority’s dedicated efforts to improve the competitive conditions in the grocery market. This gives the Authority the opportunity to increase its focus on that market, both through enforcement of the Competition Act and through market surveillance.

– This will allow us to make greater efforts in this area without reducing our activity in other markets. Our capacity to detect possible offenses will increase, and our enhanced focus on the grocery market may have a disciplinary effect on the operators in this market. In addition, these efforts may give us useful knowledge about the market and the opportunity to propose further measures that can improve competition, says Director General Lars Sørgard.
The Norwegian Competition Authority has two major ongoing investigations in the grocery market. The first concerns the exchange of strategic information between grocery chains. The second concerns differences in purchase prices. The latter case was opened in the autumn of 2019 based on, among other things, the Authority’s comprehensive survey of purchase prices.

– The grocery market is a concentrated market, and behaviour that is harmful to competition can often occur in such markets. It is also an important market for consumers. Therefore, enforcement of the Competition Act in the grocery sector has been a priority, says Director Magnus Gabrielsen at the Department of Food, Commerce and Health.

No easy solutions
The Norwegian Competition Authority shares the government’s view that more measures and long-term efforts are needed to improve the competitive situation in the grocery market. Among other things, the parliamentary report focuses on how to better facilitate the entry of new market players. The fact that the government will now encourage municipalities to take competition concerns into account when applying the Planning and Building Act is a positive measure.

– There are no simple solutions to improve the competitive situation in the grocery market, and we believe that new measures or regulations should only be introduced after thorough consideration. One project the Competition Authority has already launched is looking into the availability of suitable premises for grocery stores. It is, in any case, important to avoid adopting costly measures that do not make the situation better for consumers, says leader of Project Grocery Sigurd Birkeland.

Read the Parlament Report on regjeringen.no >> (in Norwegian)

General Director Lars Sørgard.
Director Magnus Gabrielsen.
Leader of Project Grocery Sigurd Birkeland.