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Budgeting:
Food and Drink

Intro

Food and drink are among the biggest expenses when cycling around Norway. You burn a lot of calories cycling, and refuelling is an essential part of managing your journey. Like many northern European countries, Norway is not famous for its cuisine. Outside major cities and tourist attractions, your choices are usually limited to small supermarkets, gas stations and local fast food places. In addition, supermarket and restaurant prices are some of the highest in Europe. To many, this page is likely the most important one to study and understand when heading off to cycle Norway. You can save a lot of time, money, and inconveniences by understanding how everything works here in Norway. Let’s dive into it!

Cycling from Oslo to Bergen you have over 25 supermarkets along the route.

Supermarkets

A bit of background context

Norway’s supermarkets are a hot potato of a subject and are discussed in the press regularly. Three large wealthy companies, Norgesgruppen (43.2%), Reitangruppen (23.5%), and Coop Norge SA (29.6%), control the market. It’s virtually impossible for other companies to get a strong footing. Established German, French, and British companies have all tried and failed, including Lidl, which has stores in all of Western Europe except Norway!

It is a priority for the government to protect local food companies and farms at the expense of imported goods. A good example is apples; when the Norwegian season starts in September, all imported apples are given high import taxes, thus giving the local market a competitive advantage. Many argue this is good, but if you switch apples for cheese, perhaps fewer would agree. The lack of competition and choice can result in higher average prices and poorer consumer satisfaction. There are even allegations of illegal pricing cooperation by the three powerful companies. Politicians and the media continue to debate the supermarket dilemma with strong arguments for and against the current system. 

Having said all that, you will find Norway has slowly opened up over the past decade with more international choices. The question is how much are you willing to spend on imported French or Italian cheese? We recommend sticking to local cheese if you’re on a tight budget!

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