From meatballs to plant-based and functional food – Swedish food is a global phenomenon
By Maria Kärnerud, manager, Try Swedish Export program
Swedish food might mostly be associated with the nation’s famous meatballs or popular vodka but in the past years, new innovations within plant-based, oat products and functional beverages have also achieved great global success.
Absolut Vodka remains Sweden’s largest export product, boasting a record export value comprising 99 percent and ranking as the sixth-largest alcoholic brand worldwide. Every single bottle sold is produced in Åhus, supporting local businesses and Swedish farmers and pioneering climate-friendly beverage production. But it is far from Sweden’s only beverage brand. In 2023, a record number of 750 companies were registered as producers of alcoholic beverages in Sweden. The brands are providing diverse offerings of gin and whisky as well as innovative ready-to-drink cocktails and craft beer. But there is also a growing interest in developing alcohol-liberated products to combine with fine dining and cocktails. Moreover, Swedish bars continued to climb global rankings, with sustainability and creativity as leading factors contributing to their success.
To cater to the emerging industry, Try Swedish hosted its first country pavilion, or in this case a Try Swedish Bar, at the Bar Convent Berlin 2023. Eight brands served their cocktails to international distributors and buyers.
Another trend was created during the pandemic years which saw an increased interest in functional food products such as low-sugar snacks, oat-based rice and porridge, and vitamin-enriched beverages. “The offerings from Swedish producers in this field are highly popular due to their clean ingredient lists, compelling brand stories, and innovative marketing concepts,” Says Maria Kärnerud, who is in charge of the Try Swedish Export Program, and continues: “It is impressive to see that the functional beverages offered in convenience stores in Tokyo, Seoul, and Dubai are produced and made by Sweden, the products cater to a growing demand for healthy convenient snacking for people on the go.”
Overall, as a food nation, Sweden has established and maintained a reputation for sustainable packaging and product solutions, safe production practices, and exceptionally flavourful food products. The Try Swedish Export Program has identified international markets with high sales potential for Swedish producers. Among these markets, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the United States, and various European markets stand out as offering the greatest potential for the Swedish industry to capitalise on new business opportunities.
“Swedish food is considered innovative, rich in flavours and of high quality,” says Kärnerud and concludes: “The markets toward which we actively promote Swedish brands share a common characteristic – they rely on imports to ensure food distribution, presenting an opportunity for Swedish brands.”
About Try Swedish and The Try Swedish Export Program
Try Swedish is the branding platform used by Business Sweden, the Swedish Trade and Invest Council, in order to support Swedish companies in the food and beverage sector to grow global sales.
The Try Swedish Export Program helps Swedish food and beverage companies identify new markets and expand globally by providing tailored support such as Swedish pavilions at international trade fairs, expert market knowledge, new market setup services and connections to leading global distributors.
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