/ Written by Grace Fitzgerald

Sweden—More than meatballs

World Food Travel Association. Day 1 Talks. 23/9/2013

by Grace Fitzgerald

People are not laughing much anymore about Sweden aiming to be a ‘New Culinary Nation’ on the map. Because, from reports, Ami tells us that “the whole world is starting to look at our region. The spotlight is coming back. Rediscovering the food that we have”.

Ami explained that Sweden might be known for nature, the social welfare system, design, innovation, ABBA, IKEA or Volvo, but food will be the next thing that will be talked about. But she reminds us that Sweden is a land of 9 climate zones, sweeping landscapes, vast forests, thousands of lakes, and expansive coastline and an abundance of natural, wild, and artisan foods. “We had neglected our own food culture, but things are starting to change.

photocred: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

This vision is being realised on a daily basis by a network of 26 regional ambassadors, experts from five focus areas, and communications advisors  working together to deliver a unified message; Swedish cuisine is no longer just about meatballs. Eskil launched the initiative. Started hearings. Listening to everyone from the farmer to the restaurateurs. Public food has also become a big topic. “We have to start with the children” says Ami, “from the start, kids must get a good meal at school. Other public places such as hospitals, and elderly homes are now also included. “If we want to be a gastronomic nation, we need to start with the core”.

The new norm in Sweden now is innovative chefs, and artisan producers working together with raw ingredients and raw talent. The Ministry launched ‘Culinary Capital of the Year’ award to be awarded to a Swedish city each year as a way of mobilising  food in the region. And yearly, the Culinary Nation Conference gathers 200 people to discuss future ideas, and future focus.

photocred: Måns Fornander/imagebank.sweden.se

Ami outlined the tenets of the communications strategy; National Development, Global PR, and  Focused Marketing.  1.1billion Swedish SEK is the costs so date. But only 0.02% of that has been spent on marketing, “because it’s about building a food nation from the ground up. Not just marketing”.

“More and more farmers are opening up their doors to visitors” reports Ami and highlights how there is more innovation in food production now. Moreover, the food export industry has increased 28% in the last year alone. Research has shown that Sweden was not known to be a ‘foodie’ country, but Ami points out that “people are looking for unique and memorable experience, authenticity, origins, the ethical, and health factors”. We learn that it’s more than just food. There are other factors in the equation.

The final word? “Marketing and development must go hand in hand”.

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/ Written by Jenny Jonevret

Culinary Academy in WestSweden Gothenburg 2015

Crayfish - Photo Lisa Nestorson
West Sweden is famed for its wide variety of top-quality, natural, organic produce. The forests of inland Dalsland provide an impressive range of game, berries, mushrooms and fresh fish, while the countryside bordering the Göta Canal is teeming with farm shops selling locally produced fine cheeses, high-quality dairy products, beer and schnapps. Fertile farmland makes the region ideal for growing crops and raising livestock on sustainable and traditional organic lines. Unique culinary highlights include wild garlic in the spring in Kinnekulle, exclusive roe from Lake Vänern in the autumn and fresh seafood all year round. In the cold, clean and mineral-rich water of Sweden’s West coast, shellfish grow more slowly, developing a fuller flavour, which makes these North Sea shellfish some of the best in the world. Visitors can treat themselves to lobster, mussels, oysters, crayfish and prawns, and learn how to catch and cook them on a unique seafood safari.

The region’s capital city, Gothenburg’s coastal location means easy access to fish and shellfish that stand out on quality and flavour. Add an authentic coffee shop culture that prides itself on its cakes and pastries, and Gothenburg is a food lover’s paradise. The city’s chefs work with local produce and seasonal food, preferably organic. Their modern approach to cuisine rests on Swedish traditions combined with new flavours and ideas drawn from all over the world. Today six restaurants in Gothenburg – 28+, Bhoga, Koka, Sjömagasinet, SK Mat & Människor and Thörnströms Kök – have been awarded a Michelin star. But if you’re looking for fabulous food, there’s far more to Gothenburg than that. Gothenburg was named Sweden’s Food Capital in 2012, with the jury citing the vast array of food the city has to offer, its abundance of local produce and high-quality restaurants, not to mention the fact that the food served in schools and hospitals is nutritious as well as sustainably sourced.

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/ Written by Grace Fitzgerald

If you build it, they will come

photocred: Fia Gulliksson, Food in Action

There’s no beating about the bush with Swedish Fia Gulliksson of Östersund—a woman on a mission. She is all about three things; people, passion and produce. She tells us how she brought Östersund, her regional area of Sweden, to international acclaim through sheer will and determination.

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