Food is public health and it is delight, it is national and international, trendy and traditional. Food determines family budgets and social economics, regional policy and industrial policy, management of fisheries and - not least - of agriculture.

The main objective of food and agricultural policy is to provide consumers with sufficient, safe and varied high quality food at a reasonable price. Consumer preferences and choices are some of the considerations that influence policy formulation.

Food is an important part of our heritage. What we traditionally have harvested and served is a portrait of our country and its nature - rocky shores, forested valleys, icy tundras, in a cool Nordic climate with its extreme seasonal variations.

Norwegian food production is constantly changing, and the trajectory of Norwegian society is reflected in the food we eat. The traditional products have been joined by an ever wider range of locally produced food with international roots.

Norwegian consumers increasingly demand Norwegian products.
Norwegian consumers increasingly demand Norwegian products. Credit: Jon Marius Nilsson/Innovasjon Norge

More food, more diversity

Thanks to an active and specific management of food and agriculture, Norwegian consumers can select from an ever wider range of food from local farms. At the same time, policy will safeguard future food production through sustainable management of resources and animal welfare.

In recent years Norwegian farmers and food producers have shown great ability to innovate and reinvent, a development supported by the authorities through active facilitation. The result is that the range of locally produced food, both raw and processed, has widened considerably.

There has also been an increased focus on local cuisine and specialties, which both increases diversity and develops local economies.

Norwegian consumers increasingly demand Norwegian products. The Information Label "Nyt Norge" ("Savour Norway") makes it easy for consumers to find local food in stores. The production of organic food is also increasing.

"Golden-Eye", the Midnight Sun potato of North Norway.
"Golden-Eye", the Midnight Sun potato of North Norway. Credit: Matmerk

Food security and food safety in focus

Population growth, climate change, limited natural resources and the recent rise in commodity prices has placed food security at the top of the agenda - both at home and abroad. Food security means that everybody always should have access to sufficient and safe food. 

Regarding emergency preparedness, a society supply produce as much as possible of the food neccessary for its own citizens. The Government therefore continually works to increase agricultural output and hence the degree of self-sufficiency in Norway. 

It is important for the government that consumers have high confidence in all food on the Norwegian market and in Norwegian food production.

Safe food is a key prerequisite for that confidence - i.e. that food does not contain microorganisms, environmental toxins or additives that negatively impact health, when food items are prepared and consumed as intended.

Although food safety in this country generally is at a high level, it requires sustained effort to ensure that food remains safe.

Who is responsible?

The technical responsiblity for the food sector is shared between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. These three ministries enjoy extensive and close cooperation.

The Quality in Agriculture System (Kvalitetssystemet i Landbruket - KSL) ensures that Norwegian agriculture is run according to current laws and regulations, and is the foundation for food safety, animal welfare, and quality in Norwegian food production.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) is crucial for implementing Norwegian food policy. The NFSA develops regulations, supervises, advises, maps and monitors the entire production chain - from import and production of raw materials to consumer purchase of unprocessed or processed produce.

Any person or business producing, importing or selling food in Norway is responsible for informing themselves on and complying with regulations. The FSA is the watchdog making sure they do.