Danish growers charged with running a cartel.
In this festive scandal, Danish suppliers of Christmas trees have, today, been charged with operating a cartel, designed to artificially increase prices.
One of the most popular types of live Christmas tree, the Danish Nordmann, has seen a price increase of 25% this year.
The most favoured size, the 6ft version, has risen in price to £43 ($89), up from £35 ($73) last year.
Danish exporters claim that the price increase on their trees, loved for their long, non-drop needles, was due to a shortage of supply this year.
Representatives of the Danish exporters suggest that low prices in years gone by have caused a large number of growers to leave the market.
After an investigation by the Danish competition office, prosecutors charged the Danish Christmas Tree Growers’ Association with price-fixing.
The association had issued pricing guidelines to it’s members. Under Danish law that is viewed as a formal agreement and contravenes the competition rulings.
Here in the UK, the total number of real Christmas trees imported from Denmark has been down 67% this year, to 500,000 from 1,500,000 the year before.
This is almost certainly because of the high cost.
For consumers willing to put up with a few dropped needles, real trees can be purchased for as little as 10% of the price the Danes are looking to obtain.
My take on this event is that Danish growers have, allegedly, come together in order to fix prices on their product.
Is this another sign that the spirit of Christmas is more about commercial profit and less about religion these days?