More stringent price monitoring will ensure that “potential unfairness” is exposed, Kollerup said in a press release.
The minister said he had no evidence for any such instances of companies taking advantage of inflation to raise prices unfairly. Nevertheless, authorities should be on alert for the issue, he said.
“I am sending to the authorities a question which many Danes ask themselves when they open the refrigerators in supermarkets,” Kollerup said.
“Can it really be true that prices are going up so much? Can it all be explained by the situation world markets are in or is there something else and more?”, he said.
Energy prices as well as those of food staples like butter and eggs will be kept under watch, he said.
On average, the cost of food and beverages (not including alcohol) was up 14.6 percent in July relative to last year, with the national inflation rate measured at 8.7 percent in the same month.
Price monitoring will fall under the auspices of the Business Ministry along with the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority (Konkurrence- og Forbrugerstyrelsen). Kollerup did not give details in the press statement of how prices will be monitored.
The Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti, SF), an ally of the government in parliament, said it was in support of the measure.
SF last week call for authorities to look into whether business have artificially inflated prices.
“I think it makes complete sense to have this increased focus on energy and food prices because this is something every spends money on, and it has an uneven impact socially,” SF’s business spokesperson Lisbeth Bech-Nielsen said.
The spokesperson recognised that suspicion prices have been raised too much is “only anecdotal” and said “there can be good reasons” for this.
“It hits so hard for those who have the least, so it is crucial to make sure it’s only external factors that have caused (prices) to rise in this way,” she said.
Supermarket chain Coop does not see the initiative as demonstrating a lack of trust in the sector, its head of communications and analysis Lars Aarup told Ritzau.
“It’s an excellent initiative. We support as much transparency as possible,” he said.
Business organisations have criticised Kollerup’s statement, however.
SMV Danmark, which represents small and medium-sized businesses, accused the minister of electioneering, while the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) said that the necessary means for monitoring businesses were already in place.
Kollerup does not have “a hint of evidence” that businesses are using inflation to cover up prices hikes, SMV Danmark’s senior economist Martin Kyed said.
“On the contrary, data shows that producer prices have gone up more than consumer prices,” he said in a written comment.
DI’s political director Emil Fannikke Kiær said there was a “tone of suspecting all businesses for taking advantage of the situation”.
“We actually have a very good and tough law for price fixing, and there must be reasonable grounds for price increases. We have authorities that already control this, so there are already interventions in the toolbox that are being used,” he said.