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Why Denmark’s supermarkets are not going to run out of goods

Denmark experienced a rush of panic-buying on Friday and over the weekend, but people now seem calmer following government moved to reassure them. Is there any point at all in stocking up on some goods?

Why Denmark's supermarkets are not going to run out of goods
People shopping at a supermarket in Copenhagen. Photo. Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix
According to Rasmus Vejbæk-Zerr, who owns the franchise for the Meny supermarket in the Copenhagen suburb of Hellerup, the only item for which there is currently a shortage is alcohol gel hand sanitiser. 
“Supplies in Denmark are now being concentrated on the hospitals, so now we don't have any of this alcohol gel to sell to our senior clients,” he told The Local. “There is no supermarket that has any 80 percent hand sanitiser to sell: it's sold out everywhere in the country. 
In the initial stages of the panic buying, the supermarket struggled to maintain stocks of some other products, but supplies have since returned for normal. 
“For a short while we had a problem with yeast and toilet paper, which are not really emergency things, but the supplies of those products are now back.”  
On the weekend, Vejbæk-Zerr decided that if anyone bought two bottles of hand sanitiser at his supermarket, the second would be priced at 1,000 Danish kroner, and the sign he posted up in his supermarket went viral, with more than two million views on his Facebook page.  
“We do this with some other products, just not as drastically, where you get one at a reduced price and the second at the normal prices,” he told The Local.  “So I decided to make it really dramatic, with a glint in my eye, to make people understand. People needed to stop and think, 'maybe I can make do with just one'.” 
The 1000 DK price marker was put up over the weekend. Photo: Rasmus Vejbæk-Zerr 
Since the first spate of panic buying, the Danish government has worked hard to reassure citizens that there is no risk to basic supplies. 
Food Minister Mogens Jensen told a press conference on Tuesday that the government was working hard to ensure that cross-border trade was continuing as normal. “Goods are flowing freely across borders, and as long as we continue to trade as we usually do, there will be no trouble providing supplies,” he said. 
At the press conference, Peter Høgsted, chief executive of the Coop supermarket chain appealed to customers to shop normally. 
All of Coop's 3,000 supermarkets are fully stocked, as are its warehouses, while food producers both in Denmark and internationally continue to produce food, he said. 
Peter Høgsted, chief executive of Coop, assured Danes that his supermarket's supplies were not threatened. Photo: Scanpix 
According to Louise Aggerstrøm, private economist at Danske Bank, supermarkets are taking on more people to ensure they will not face staff shortages if employees become sick or go into quarantine. 
“I know that the supermarkets are hiring massively because of this. They are basically hiring as many people as they can. Those are the only people that are picking up workers now.” 

Vejbæk-Zerr said that companies in the food logistics change were keeping some employees at home, so they could be brought in if those working become sick. 
“A lot of companies are already working in two-team shifts, so that if someone gets sick, another team can take over,” he said. 
“The companies are very well aware that the food industry had to go on like normal, so my supermarket is stocked up like never before. There's no shortage of food, and there's no sign that there will be a shortage of food.” 

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Why coffee could cost more for Danish consumers in 2022

The price of raw coffee beans recently reached its highest level for ten years, media in Scandinavia report, a trend which is likely to impact consumer prices in the region.

A photo of coffee beans in Denmark. Consumers in the country may soon notice a higher cost per cup.
A photo of coffee beans in Denmark. Consumers in the country may soon notice a higher cost per cup. File photo: Mathias Svold/Ritzau Scanpix

Raw coffee currently costs more than at any time in the last decade, Norwegian financial media E24 reported on Tuesday.

A doubling of the cost per kilo during the last year, reported by E24 in the summer, has been followed by further increased in recent months. The current price of 37 Norwegian kroner (28.3 Danish kroner) per kilogram is the highest for a decade, the media writes.

That is in spite of a strengthening of Norway’s currency against the US dollar, according to E24. The Danish krone is also currently strong.

Because raw coffee beans are always traded in dollars, with prices set by the New York Stock Exchange a strong exchange rate should theoretically make the beans cheaper to import to Nordic countries.

“I think we are seeing a new normal when it comes to the industrial market price of coffee,” Ola Brattås, head of imports with Norwegian chain Kaffebrenneriet, told E24.

Higher prices have already made an impression on Danish coffee companies.

Markets for the product are currently uncertain, said Lars Aaen Thøgersen, head of communication and development with Peter Larsen Kaffe.

“It’s been this way for some time. There has been uncertainty around the harvest, particularly in Brazil,” Thøgersen told news wire Ritzau.

Drought in Brazil, linked to illegal rainforest logging and climate change, is reported by E24 as a key factor in coffee prices. The International Coffee Organization’s September 2021 report also mentions weather in Brazil.

That has compounded higher transport costs and general uncertainty related to the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

Although companies like Peter Larsen can purchase coffee directly from producers and thereby avoid financial markets, they are unable to avoid knock-om effects of high market values, according to Thøgersen.

“When this happens, all supplies around us are affected. So that naturally also affects our situation,” he said.

That means consumers are likely to also feel the effects at some point down the line, the coffee company spokesperson said.

“Consumers can already feel that prices have gone up now, and it will quite likely also be felt further,” he said.

“But it should also be put into perspective, because if you calculate per cup of coffee, a consumer will only notice a few øre (difference in price),” he also noted.

Supermarket chain Coop, which owns the Kvickly, Superbrugsen and Irma stores in Denmark, is currently negotiating 2022 supplier prices. The outcome of those negotiations is not yet known,” head of information Jens Juul Nielsen told Ritzau.

“How this will be felt on store shelves, we can’t yet say,” Nielsen said.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s energy prices hit highest level for nine years