Auður Alfa Ólafsdóttir, a specialist with the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), refutes Hagar CEO Finnur Oddsson’s claim that food prices in Iceland are reasonable when viewed as a percentage of wages or household expenses, RÚV reports. Auður argues that such a comparison is misleading and points out that Iceland has the third-highest food prices globally.
Food prices have soared
In a recent interview with Mbl, Finnur Oddsson, CEO of Hagar, argued that food prices in Iceland were not exorbitant when considered as a percentage of wages or household expenditures. Auður Alfa Ólafsdóttir, a specialist with the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), pushed back against this claim, disputing the fairness of this comparison, in a radio interview yesterday.
“Certainly, food accounts for a smaller proportion of overall expenses in Iceland compared to less affluent countries. This is a good thing, as it indicates that, on average, people in Iceland have greater disposable income. As a result, essential items like food do not constitute a significant financial burden for Icelanders. However, it’s important not to conflate spending patterns with the actual cost of individual products. The amount spent on specific categories of goods or services doesn’t necessarily reflect the price level of those items. And so, he seems to be conflating two unrelated concepts,” Auður Alfa remarked.
While acknowledging that many Icelanders earn decent salaries, Auður pointed out that a significant portion do not, and for them, food expenses consume a large share of their income. She emphasised that food prices have soared in the country, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We rank third globally in terms of food prices, trailing only Norway and Switzerland. The gap between us and the next Nordic country, Denmark, is a substantial 20%,” she stated.
According to Auður Alfa, multiple factors contribute to Iceland’s elevated food prices, including oligopolistic practices in transportation, retail, and wholesale sectors.