I was in Greenland this past May and had the opportunity to visit a few grocery stores in Nuuk and Sisimiut. Just as in rural Alaska and Canada, store-bought foods are flown into Greenlandic communities, mostly from Denmark ostensibly by way of Kangerlussuaq (the main international flight hub) or Nuuk (the largest town and capital). The cost of store-bought foods is therefore more expensive than in mainland Denmark where ground transportation is possible.
As I have discussed in past posts, store-bought foods are extremely expensive in much of rural Alaska and Canada. While we know that high store-bought food prices contribute to a high percentage of food insecure households in Nunavut, Canada, little remains known about household food security in rural Alaska Native communities.
The World Health Organization defines food security as “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.
I took pictures of store-bought foods in Sisimiut that are generally regarded as nutritious, such as potatoes, bread, eggs and meats, as well as a few non-food items such as dish soap and diapers. The store, Brugseni, also sold beer, wine and spirits, and had a bakery. The foods I chose were selected at random.
Sisimiut is Greenland’s second largest town about 200 miles north of Nuuk with a population of 5,600. It is accessible only by air and water.
I’ve converted the food prices from Danish Kroner to U.S. dollars and the units from kilograms to pounds. In general, store-bought food prices at Brugseni (those shown here) and at the three main grocery stores in Nuuk are lower than those I have seen in other Inuit communities like Kotzebue, Barrow and Iqaluit, at least after conversion.
There are probably other factors at play such as local and national taxes and minimum wage that likely distort store-bought food costs in the context of this country and community, but it would seem to behoove policy makers to learn more about Greenland’s food distribution policies.
Efforts to subsidize the cost of store-bought foods in Northern Canada have failed, and perhaps future posts on this blog will explore how the Government of Greenland subsidizes store-bought food costs in its communities, if at all.
Brugseni in Sisimiut
Red onion, $3.60/2.2 Ibs
Potatoes, $20.24/5.5 Ibs
Bagged avocados (2), $1.89/.78 Ibs
Single avocado, $1.62
Dish soap, $2.25/25.4 oz
Diapers (40), $17.98