Schools and public bodies drive demand for Swedish meat
The share of Sweden-produced meat products bought by Swedish local authorities for schools and other services increased to 42.6% to SEK3.4 billion (US$379m) in 2016 from 33.2% in 2012, Pirjo Gustafsson, agribusiness developer for the Federation of Swedish Farmers (Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund - LRF) told GlobalMeatNews, quoting from a recent LRF survey.
In terms of different categories, local authority purchases of raw chicken meat increased significantly between 2012 and 2016, by more than 80% by value and just under 80% by volume. Refined and cooked meat products purchased rose by around 45% in both value and volume, she said, quoting the survey. And the total value of raw Swedish meat sourced through public procurement at all levels of government rose 15% between 2012 and 2016.
This trend is expected to be reinforced by a new government ‘regulatory framework for procurement’, which entered into force on 1 January 2017. The new rule requires public authorities to buy sustainably-produced meat, rather than opting for lower-priced meat, in order to comply with the United Nations’ sustainable economic social and environmental development guidance, said Gustafsson. This builds on Swedish consumers preferring domestically-produced meat because of the “lower use of antibiotics and meat being free from salmonella” and because of LRF programmes to promote domestic meat, she noted.
Swedish food boom
The Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) agreed that there was a “general trend in Sweden of increased demand for Swedish meat”, even though price levels are generally higher than for imported alternatives. “This is true both for individual consumers and for food purchasers in local governments,” said the board’s agricultural policy analyst Åsa Lannhard Öberg. The country’s National Agency for Public Procurement (Upphandlingsmyndigheten) is helping the process by providing “local governments with tools to procure food with certain characteristics, and to follow up on the characteristics”, said Öberg. Moreover, Swedish meat product trademarks, such as ‘Svenskt kött’ ‘Svensk Fågel’ ‘Från Sverige’ have been gaining in popularity in Sweden. “Consumers feel these trademarks guarantee safe products, coming from healthy animals,” she added.
This strengthens meat producers’ “position in this part of the foodservice market that has for long, and still is, dominated by imported meat”, said Magnus Därth, managing director of the Swedish meat industry association (Kött och Charkföretagen – KCF). And while public procurement markets represent only 4% of all food sold in Sweden, it has “a strong symbolic value”, helping illustrate how the Swedish government has imposed tougher rules nationally for both environment and animal welfare compared to European Union regulations, Därth said. He added that many consumers believed the government should “only purchase animal products produced at a level of animal welfare equivalent to Swedish law”.