Nicolas Ranninger, Stockholm Office, Bord Bia - Irish Food Board
The Swedish Board of Agriculture estimates that Swedish meat usage (1) has continued to increase. In 2013, total usage reached 88.5 kg per person, with poultry leading the way with growth of around 8%, followed by pork and beef at 4% each.
Since the 1990s, Swedish meat consumption has grown by 40% and remains slightly below the EU average consumption. However, Swedish beef consumption per capita currently holds Europe’s third highest level behind Denmark and France. Conversely, less pork, poultry and lamb is consumed.
In comparison to most other Western European retail markets, Sweden has traditionally been more focused on low-value offerings, a shorter range of cuts and a higher range of processed meat such as meat balls, burgers and sausages. However, recent changes are indicating growing market sophistication. This is particularly true for beef. An example of this premiumisation is the growing presence in retail stores of highly marbled US and Swedish beef cuts displayed in attractive skinpacks.
According to the Swedish Board of Agriculture, factors like product development, improved packaging and restaurants focusing on premium meat have contributed to the recent increase in consumption. The growing interest in protein-rich diets such as the Low Carbohydrates High Fat (LCHF) and the Glycemic Index (GI) has also influenced meat consumption.
Sustainability has become a core value for the Swedish food industry along with consumers. However, some pressure from NGOs and related organisations to cap meat consumption on sustainability and animal welfare grounds has become evident. Nevertheless the Swedish demand for meat is set to remain strong in 2014.
Ireland remains a key beef supplier to Sweden, yet Irish beef penetration in the Swedish market is being challenged, particularly by the Netherlands. Between 2006 and 2012, Ireland has seen its value market share drop from 31% to 23%, whereas the Dutch beef market share has increased from 11% to 26%. A proportion of the US beef imported into Sweden is thought to be traded through the Netherlands and, as a result, inflating the Dutch export statistics.
By addressing Swedish retail and consumer sustainability concerns, Irish beef and lamb exporters who are members of Origin Green are well equipped to take advantage of this growing demand for premium meat.
(1) “Usage" relates to the total volume of meat (including bones) that is used to accommodate consumption. The meat usage of 88.5 kg represents an actual meat consumption of approximately 50-55 kg per person per year).