Nappy hunters bare Norwegian bottoms

2013-01-31 20:24

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Oslo - Southern Norway is in the midst of a nappy shortage after a supermarket price war lured enterprising bulk shoppers from eastern Europe who have cleaned out the shelves, customs officials and retailers said.

Norway is one of the world's most expensive countries. However, supermarkets in the south trying to lure local customers by undercutting rivals on the price of nappies inadvertently made it profitable enough for residents of nearby countries to start trading in them.

"They buy every last diaper [nappy], I mean everything we have on the shelves, throw it in the back of their car and take them home, where they sell it for a nice profit," says Terje Ragnar Hansen, a regional director for retail chain Rema 1000.

"It's not stealing and it's not even criminal but it's a big problem, ... they leave nothing for our regular customers.

Customers come into Norway from Sweden, drive along the coast to fill their cars, then take a ferry back to the continent, said Helge Breilid, the chief of customs in Kristiansand on Norway's southern coast.

Some have been stopped with nappies worth up to $9 100, roughly 80 000 nappies, a legal shipment even though Norway is not part of the European Union.

"They told us that the only reason they came to Norway was to drive around and buy nappies to bring back home and resell," Breilid said.

"These people mainly come from Poland and Lithuania, and we have no reason to believe that they are part of any criminal gangs."

Norwegian nappies cost as little as $5.47 for 50, less than half of the prevailing price in Lithuania. Coincidentally, the internet is heaving with Lithuanian sellers advertising Norwegian nappies.

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