A Lot of Small Whole Food Shops but No Organic Chains in Sweden
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
There are no precise data on the number of organic and whole food shops in Sweden. On its homepage, the regulatory body Krav lists 31 independent stores, but there are probably at least another 20 small shops that for financial reasons do not have certification, according to the estimate of Karolina Jerkebring from Ekologiska Lantbrukarna, Her organisation is this year drawing attention particularly to the shopping situation in Stockholm and region.
Picture: Cajsa Warg in Stockholm
EkoSTHLM, a handy little booklet with a very attractive layout and containing discount coupons, introduces whole food shops and cafes, restaurants and places to visit with an organic connection. As well as the print version, that is available at many places in the city, the booklet can be accessed by anyone who is interested as a PdF file under www.ekolantbruk.se/ekosthlm.asp .
With the conventional food retail trade accounting for 73 % of the market, and sales direct from the farm accounting for a further 7 % of organic turnover, only 20 % is left for the specialist shops, supply services and weekly markets. Farmers’ markets, that sell mainly organic produce, have experienced a real renaissance in recent years. A good ten markets throughout the country have come together to form an association - Bondes Egen Marknad. The state monopoly company for alcoholic drinks, Systembolaget, has developed into as an important organic outlet. Its latest successes are organic wine whose sales increased from January to August 2005 by almost 50 % to 575,000 litres. (picture: Gryningen)
The best stock of organic goods is to be found in the trendy district Södermalm and in the somewhat more middle-class Östermalm and Vasastan, all not far from the city centre. Gryningen advertises the most extensive whole food range in the capital (picture). The owner, Mickey Vujicic, estimates there is a stock of about 3,000 articles. She explains that she cannot be certain of the number because the company, that she and her husband took over four years ago, still does not have a computer. The shop, which started up in the 1980s in the home of the founder, employs three full-time staff. Mickey Vujicic would like to move out of the cramped and crowded premises and increase the range even more, but bigger premises are hard to find and scarcely affordable.
Still in Stockholm, just a few streets away, Cajsa Warg (picture) has more space at its disposal. The interior is dark wood in the style of an old-fashioned village shop. The shop that has given itself the title “neighbourhood shop for the whole city” is a delicatessen, but a third of the 5,000 articles are organic, according to Per Eriksson, the manager. The shop stocks an extensive range of fresh produce as well as many finished and semi-finished products, all fitting the slogan of the enterprise: “Simply Good Food”.
On the quieter side of the Södermalm district, the inconspicuous Bondens Butik (Farmers’ Shop) was founded about a year ago on the mezzanine floor of a house. As the name implies, everything in the 100 m² shop, with its plain interior, comes from farmers in the vicinity. The owners, Ingvar Petterson and Claes Roempke, are themselves farmers. Another 20-30 small-scale producers bring their goods themselves to the shop and pay Petterson and Roempke a proportion of the selling price. You get a clear view of the usual stock, but on the right day you might just come across something out-of -the-ordinary, like an organic pheasant. Special offers and all the suppliers and farms that customers can visit are given on the homepage. In the café corner, you can keep your strength up with some plain cooking or freshly baked cinnamon-flavoured buns.
(picture: Morot et Annat)
In Uppsala, too, to the north of Stockholm, a 40-strong group of farmers opened an organic shop in the autumn called Upplandsböndernas Ekobutik. In Malmö, in the south of Sweden, two shops were opened three years ago (pictures) called Morot et Annat (Carrots and More). The young entrepreneur, Hanna Olson, comes from the organic farm Mossagarden from where she gets all the vegetables. Her shops (60 m² and 100 m²), that are fitted out with old-style furniture (pictures), have 1,200 items on offer, including natural products like animal food and textiles. Many of the goods are imported by Hanna Olson, working together with her parents and younger sister, whose delivery service Mossagarden operates in the Schonen region and recently took in Stockholm as well. “People here in Malmö have been really starved as far as organic produce was concerned, and now they are very happy with our range, so we want to keep on expanding it as much as finances permit. Naturally, an organic supermarket would be much better,” Hanna Olsen explains.
The biggest wholesaler (turnover approximately 6 million Euros) is Kung Markatta in Örebro, who sells a quarter of the 1,600 products as own label. The company Biofood in Vasterhaninge aims to increase its turnover in 2005 by 10 % to 4.2 million Euros, and imports for other wholesalers, restaurants, whole food shops and day nurseries and schools. Other wholesalers are North Trade in Johanneshov, an importer of organic meat for the Swedish and Finnish retail trade and canteens, and Dagsmeja in Mölndal and Hedenborgs Ekologiska Produkter in Göteborg.
The Biodynamiska Produkter Foundation in Järna specialises in Demeter-products. With its 8,000 inhabitants south of Stockholm, Järna is a town which has been the centre of anthroposophy in Sweden since the 1930s. The enterprise also operates an organic box scheme under the name Ekoladan. Järna is also the location of Sata Kvarn, an organic bakery (mentioned elsewhere) with its own wholesale business.
Important traders of organic products among the conventional wholesalers are, for example, the fruit and vegetable wholesaler Saba, whose organic turnover of 16 million Euros is only 5 % of its total turnover, the restaurant supplier Servera with 3 % organic and an organic turnover of 12 million Euros. The manufacturer and wholesaler Svenska Nutana (turnover 8 million Euros), with its headquarters in Rimbo, sells about 200 vegetarian, and for the main part organic, products under the name Nutana and Hälsans Kök (healthy cooking) across all the Nordic countries. Sackeus in Göteborg deals in Fair Trade products. The enterprise, that belongs to a Swedish coffee roaster, a Mexican coffee cooperative and the Protestant Church, is anticipating a growth in turnover of 15-20 % to about 1.2 million Euros in 2005.