The energy bill generally represents one third of the total costs in greenhouse horticulture. Now that the electricity price in the south of Norway has doubled compared to the same period last year, it's getting very expensive for Norwegian growers to heat up their greenhouses. It's the highest it's been in 8 years.
Solbergs Gartneri is one of the affected companies. The grower harvests about 3 million cucumbers per year in a greenhouse complex of 13,000 m2 in total. The price increase will raise the cost per cucumber by 10 cents. "We are currently selling the cucumbers for 0.68 euros each. Margins are low in winter because we have to compete with imported Spanish cucumbers that don't have to pay import duties," says Kristian Solberg.
"In the worst case, we have to decide to leave the greenhouses empty in winter, so that we only have to keep them free of frost. It's a shame, because more crop protection products and water is used for the import."
The Norsk Gartnerforbund reports that many members have opted for collective energy contracts for the coming years. For those that haven't done so, the price increase may prove to be insurmountable.