Imported Danish products account for around 10% of all pork meat sold through the ICA chain in Sweden. The bulk of meat sold by the chain, around 80%, is sourced from local suppliers.
The boycott, which started when the ICA Norrköp store in Norrtälje removed all Danish fresh pork from its meat counters in mid-April, followed lobbying by local consumer groups over perceived deficiencies in animal welfare and hygiene standards at Danish meat processing plants, said ICA Norrköp’s manager Tobias Larsson.
"We are responding to real concerns. There has been a lot of media focus in Sweden on Danish animal husbandry standards, including documentaries on television. Some consumers feel these standards are much lower than in Sweden," added Larsson. ICA Norrköp has removed all fresh Danish pork meat, including popular loin cuts and chops. However, it continues to stock and sell smoked Danish pork and bacon.
ICA’s central chain organisation has instructed its wholly owned stores to avoid the boycott, as ICA Norrköp operates as an independent owner-member within the ICA chain.
"We will replace the Swedish fresh pork meat with locally sourced Swedish pork, and we are doing this at a heavily discounted price to consumers. We also feel good about supporting Swedish farmers. We intend to maintain our policy for at least six months to see what other stores within the ICA supermarket chain nationally will do. We want to be at the forefront of this issue," said Larsson.
Danish exporters, including Danish Crown, plan to improve animal welfare and meat production information provided to Swedish customers and consumers. And Danish Crown is not overly worried that the boycott will spread in Sweden, said its spokesman Jens Hansen. "It’s obviously very unfortunate that this happens, but this is a localised issue. We are in dialogue with our Swedish customers all the time and have an interactive relationship to deal with criticisms and the need for information on specific questions. We deal with chains at the central level, and it can be difficult if the problem involves independent traders within these chains. We are working to find solutions, so that our sales to Sweden may continue normally."