Cheap beer banned

Norway officials call for end to pricing war as drinkers try to stock up

Apr 26, 2004 - Norwegian authorities have ordered retailers to increase their beer prices after competition cut in half the amount consumers pay. "The current price on beer is in breach of the alcohol law," Bjorn-Inge Larsen, director of the health directory, said while ordering retailers to boost prices or be stripped of their licenses to sell alcohol.


Norway charges high beer taxes - more than double those in Sweden and five times the rate in Denmark - in an effort to minimize drinking. During the price wars, the amount (6.5 crowns, or $1) stores were charging for a 0.33 liter (a little over 11 ounces) bottle fell to less than the 6.7 crowns tax on it.

"It's time for hoarding," a news agency reported Thomas Stroem as saying while he carried three cases of beer out of a grocery store in Oslo. "It might take a long time before we get cheap beer again."

Non-European Union Norway's taxes on alcohol are the highest in Europe, and shoppers often visit EU neighbors Sweden and Denmark to stock up on beer, wine and liquor. Retailers cut prices to stop people from buying abroad. They are also worried about losing out to German discount chain Lidl, which has opened cut-price outlets in Finland and Sweden and plans stores in Norway.

"Something has to be done about taxes, otherwise no one is going to buy beer in Norway at all," said Helge Hasselgaard, spokesman for the Norwegian Brewery Association.

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