Stockholm’s most noted restaurants of recent years have one concept in common: Scandinavian culinary tradition in an innovative version, carefully selected raw ingredients and a focus on locally produced organic foods.
Nordic cuisine is gaining a lot of attention in the food pages of magazines and newspapers and it’s not just Denmark as Swedish chefs put their country’s food on the world map, while culinary tours of the capital Stockholm are taking off.
Leading Swedish supermarkets such as ICA and Coop – which account for the bulk of organic food sales in the country – reported sales growth for organics in excess of 40% during the first six months of 2014.
While Sweden’s organic market is predicted to reach 25% growth in 2015, there are still challenges for the group that provides the certification label and promotes organics in Sweden – KRAV.
KRAV is organised as an incorporated association in Sweden that represent farmers, processors, trade and also consumer, environmental and animal welfare interests. It also develops organic standards.
The KRAV-label is well-known among Swedish consumers and the aided awareness is 98%. At present there are more than 6,200 KRAV-certified products and five certification bodies carry out inspections according to KRAV standards.
Ambitious goal for 20% of food sales by 2020
KRAV has a clear but ambitious goal that by 2020, 20% of all food sold in Sweden will be KRAV-labelled, but to get there, more people have to buy KRAV-labelled products more often. Johan Cejie, sales manager of KRAV, spoke with Organic & Wellness News about goals and market trends.
OWN: Your research shows nearly one million loyal consumers and sales equivalent to 5% of total food sales, a higher frequency of organic buying intention, and that the Swedish organic market is growing strongly. How much of this is due to the strength and consumer recognition of the KRAV brand?
JOHAN: It is a consumer driven sales increase we are experiencing. The recognition of the KRAV-label is of great importance. However, there are other important factors as well, for example:
• Major operators in healthy competition
• Food scandals during 2013
• Relatively safe atmosphere among consumers
• Good selection already in the shelves
• Increased concerns with environmental issues
• Campaigns by NGOs.
OWN: What is the estimated yearly sales value of the organic market in Sweden?
JOHAN: Annual sales are 12 billion Sek (US$1.6 million).
OWN: Has this brand recognition and sales growth been helped by government support for organics and sustainable production in Sweden?
JOHAN: Earlier, in 2006, politicians set a broad target of 25% organic production by area. However, in the last years there has been very few clear political signals including an uncertainty regarding subsidies.
OWN: What about the recognition and profile of the KRAV organic brand in Europe and nearby countries – is this and business transactions growing?
JOHAN: KRAV is known to some extent amongst consumers in Denmark and Norway. But with this rapid increase in sales it is the home market which is most important for us at the moment. At the same time we do work together with the leading organic alliance and the IFOAM EU-group on other areas, mainly standards development.
OWN: How has the success of the Natural Products Scandinavia and Nordic Organic Food Fair helped regionally to increase KRAV’s profile?
JOHAN: This is a very important fair for us,although it is still under development. What we see is that it is already proving worthwhile for our clients who are securing trade via the fair.
OWN: Regarding export growth for Swedish organics in Europe, is this progressing each year and can you put a figure on sales growth?
JOHAN: We have limited data for export, but our assumption is that it is growing slowly.
OWN: Which product categories and brands are becoming the most popular outside of Sweden and are there any countries where the profile of KRAV or Swedish organics is becoming well established in retail stores?
JOHAN: In the UK we know that jam and cheese are recognized products from Sweden. We also have IKEA that only uses KRAV-certified berries in jams and lemonades.
OWN: Are there more new organic products coming onto the market each year for export and where do you see the most potential for Swedish organics?
JOHAN: Yes, it is growing and interest for export is awakening. Markets that we see as interesting are the UK, Benelux and the Nordic countries. During 2015 we will also investigate opportunities in China. We also export grain oats to the USA.
OWN: Nordic food has enjoyed a recent high profile in the culinary area; we are reading a lot more about Swedish chefs in industry and consumer media, is this trend also helping the profile of Swedish organics?
JOHAN: This focus on Swedish food also means a focus on quality and organic is quality that is indeed part of the explanations for success. We are currently part of five competitions for restaurants and chefs as an effort to underpin the culinary development of organic food.