Healthy eating is on everyone’s lips these days. The market for organic, locally sourced and plant-based food is growing and changing the way people eat and buy food. A recent report from TechSci Research report predicted an annual growth rate of more than 14 per cent for the global organic food market between 2016 and 2021.
Sweden is one of the countries at the forefront of this movement. The famously planet-conscious country is home to a well-developed sustainable food industry and a deep-rooted awareness among consumers that the way they eat affects their own health as well as that of the planet.
Sustainable food production standards are well established
Sara Sundquist is a policy expert with the Swedish Food Federation (Livsmedelsföretagen), a trade body with 800 member companies representing all aspects of the Swedish food industry. She says the long-standing focus of Swedish consumers on sustainability has significantly impacted the way food is produced.
“When you buy Swedish, you can rest assured it represents the highest standard of sustainable food production,” she says. “This goes for everything from use of chemicals, pesticides and antibiotics, to the way the animals are treated.”
The Swedish Food Federation has set out its intentions for sustainable Swedish food production in a manifesto, where it states its goals across key areas such as energy use, food waste, animal protection and ethical business practices. The manifesto is currently being revised to reflect new objectives.
“We wrote the first manifesto in 2013 but here has been so much progress in the last five years that we’re ready to be even more ambitious,”
says Sundquist, adding that the new manifesto will include aggressive targets for efficient energy use, minimised use of pesticides and antibiotics and, equality and diversity in the workplace.
Sustainable food innovators from Sweden
Rated as the world’s most sustainable country, Sweden is also home to many industry leaders in the field of sustainability. One such example is Polarbröd, a fifth-generation bread producer from Northern Sweden.
Polarbröd seeks to deliver the best possible product using the minimum amount of resources. In 2012, it set a series of targets to secure the long-term sustainability of its business. They included sustainably produced raw materials, renewable and efficient transport, renewable or recycled packaging materials and self-sufficiency in renewable energy. In 2014, the company went a step further by investing in, and building, four wind turbines that supply its bakeries with renewable electricity.
Polarbröd has also created a sustainability award – Utstickarpriset – that is presented annually to pay tribute to brave people and organisations who have demonstrated an ability to go their own way and show consideration, action, innovation and endurance.
In 1995, coffee company Löfbergs brought the first organic coffee to the Swedish market. Today, it is one of the worldst organic coffee to the Swedish market. Todaynlabeled coffee. Löfberg’s accomplishments include introducing the first aluminium-free packaging in Sweden. It also plans to move toward 100 per cent renewable energy reden. gslila.com/en/” \t “_blank” Toa company that has doubled production over the last twenty years without increasing energy use.
Lantmännen is an agricultural cooperative and northern Europe’s leader in agriculture, machinery, bioenergy and food products. Owned by 25 000 Swedish farmers and with research, business development and operations throughout the entire value chain, the cooperative holds a unique position – from field to fork.
Claes Johansson, Head of Sustainable Development at Lantmännen, says the company’s main challenge is to satisfy the needs of a growing population without jeopardising fragile ecosystems.
“Our long-term goal is to increase our yields within the planetary boundaries and achieve a fossil free production in the Nordic region by 2030,” says Johansson.
The company has taken several steps in reaching this goal through research and innovation, truly from field to fork.
“We have developed new biological methods for crop protection decreasing the use of chemical substances. Machinery is becoming more and more efficient and technology is taking great leaps within our sector with sensors and AI-technology as an integrated part of modern farming. Our production is already in large powered by green energy sources, and through our biorefinery we turn bread crumbs into sustainable fuels and feed – just to name a few examples. With initiatives throughout the value chain we can also offer consumers a “Friendlier Wheat”, a flour with 20 percent reduced climate impact and benefits for biodiversity,” Johansson explains.
Swedish farmers are at the forefront of implementing sustainable practices and have a strong position to meet the increasing demand for sustainable products.