Swedish creativity during COVID-19

May 7, 2020 | Food & Wine, Sweden

At times when most of Europe has opted for lockdown, Sweden has approached the crisis differently. In this country with a population of 10.3 million inhabitants, the authorities and the government believe in civic responsibility and do not plan to implement more restrictive measures.


Reinvent oneself to live with the COVID-19

Nevertheless, gatherings of more than 50 people are banned but bars and restaurants remain open. The entire restaurant industry has undoubtedly been challenged and forced to come up with new creative solutions to face the crisis and avoid closure or bankruptcy.

As a consequence, most restaurants have decided to reduce their opening hours, and only places with seated tables are allowed to remain open. Among them, the historic and renowned Sturehof, open 365 days a year, has decided to close on Sundays and Mondays, and the famous Michelin two-starred restaurant Oaxen is now only open on Friday and Saturday evenings.

All these emblematic establishments of the Swedish gastronomy scene offer home deliveries as well as take-away at reduced prices. Some of them even offer their talent to support the medical staff, such as Chef Niklas Ekstedt, at the head of the Michelin starred restaurant Ekstedt, who donates 10 dinners to those who work closely with corona patients in hospitals. Likewise, the two-starred restaurant Gastrologik offers charity gift cards to the hospital staff in Stockholm. Through this active and united mobilization, the Chefs seek to save their activity as best as possible.

But despite all the creative solutions found and new services reinvented, the restaurant industry is threatened. Indeed, Swedes are taking precautions and prefer to stay home. Like the starred restaurant SAV and several fast-food chains which have had to close, an entire industry, made of meeting places, talents, and values ​​like sharing and pleasure is at stake.

Read more: “Sweden is a natural destination for Gigondas wines”

Systembolaget does not know the crisis

However, if restaurants are experiencing difficulties due to less traffic and social distancing measures, the Systembolaget’s alcohol sales have increased by 10% compared to the same period last year. Several changes in Swedish consumption patterns explain this upward trend, with a context favoring consumption at home. An increase in sales in certain categories has been noticed, especially for red wine in BIB (+ 20%), rosé wine due to the sunny days (+ 24%), spirits (+ 20%) such as whiskey, gin, and rum, canned beer or dry cider. Consequently, the consumption of alcohol in below-average price ranges is a clear trend during COVID-19. 

Moreover, a channel that has been highlighted is the direct import, which enables anyone to order wines not listed in the monopoly’s assortment via importers who traditionally work with the Horeca sector. Since they do not go to restaurants or wine bars anymore, some people have decided to keep their drinking habits of prestigious appellations and local wines through other purchasing channels, looking forward to better days!

French wines are the reference in restaurants and the Monopoly

Curious trendsetters driven by progressive values and ideals, Swedes are known as open and forward-looking early adopters. Exhibiting a willingness to pay a premium for good products, they are likely to return to brands they trust, preferring European origin with high added value, a favorable trend to the French offer. French wines are the reference in restaurants and the Monopoly (first in value). Specialized stores with new gourmet-oriented concepts respond to the Swedish interest for food and wine pairings, the desire to find quality products, as found in covered markets, cheese shops, and butchers where French products have a special place!

Wine professionals, join the online French Wine & Spirits network

Finally, the digital wine platform vinos.se launched in this period of crisis the concept of online tasting, followed by thousands of Swedish fans. Several sessions per week are planned, the next one will focus on organic, biodynamic, and natural wines.

Good to know! Connect directly to the French wine & spirits marketplace for professionals, and get access to a wide offer and network. It’s free!

Read more: Access the marketplace

Senior Trade Advisor
Nordic Referent Wine & Spirits
Senior Trade Advisor
Nordic Referent Wine & Spirits