2007-09-19

Vinmonopolet - early days


In Norway there are strict rules on where you can buy alcohol. Beer can be bought in a grocery store (but not after a certain time), but stronger alcohol such as wine and spirits, can only be bought at special stores called "Vinmonopolet".

This photo is from the museum Norsk Folkemuseum and displays how Vinmonopolet was back in the beginning of the 1920's.

Some history:

Norway faced major alcohol problems in the 19th century. Legislation was liberal, and advances in production techniques helped to encourage growing use of spirits. This peaked around 1830-40, when spirits accounted for 80-90 per cent of Norwegian alcohol consumption. Estimates suggest that each adult Norwegian drank about 13 litres of neat alcohol in the form of spirits during these years. Norway's alcohol consumption has never been higher, before or since.

Because of these problems there was a ban on alcohol in 1919. This was not popular with the wine-producing countries, and since Norway was (and is) selling a lot of fish to other countries they were more or less forced to find another solution.

A centralised monopoly would prevent the arbitrary local variations, which prevailed in Norway, it was claimed. This argument made a big contribution to the creation of Vinmonopolet as a private limited company under government control on 30 November 1922.

Covering both import and sales, the company's monopoly was intended to make wine available nationwide while taking account of the social concerns associated with alcohol use. When prohibition was repealed on fortified wine in 1923 and spirits in 1926, Vinmonopolet took over the sale of these commodities.


3 kommentarer:

BLEEDING ORANGE sa...

Interesting story!

Michael sa...

When I saw this in Norway I was really intrigued. It also explained a lot about why at the airport there are tons of Norwegians in the duty free stores on both ends of the journey! Agree with bleeding orange, interesting story!

Lothiane sa...

Oh yes, the duty free shops are the main reason to travel, or so it may seem. ;) The taxes on alcohol (and tobacco) are very high in Norway. For those of us living not too far away from the Swedish border, we're able to travel there sometimes and buy our quota. :)