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“Plenty of Swedish supermarkets for 50 million consumers”It’s not easy being a smaller importer in Sweden. Like elsewhere in Europe, smaller wholesalers are disappearing as customers, and new buyers have to be found. Johan Andersson from Swedish importer Kalundbladh talks about the challenges on the market.
Johan Andersson, Kalundbladh.
“We import as much as possible ourselves,” Johan says. “But we also have Swedish products, both from greenhouses and outdoor product. Swedish products are becoming increasingly important.” The Swedish consumer could be called chauvinistic when it comes to buying fruit and vegetables. Demand for domestic product is high, despite the more expensive prices. For the flow of import, the importance of South Africa and Latin America is decreasing. “For example, for apples we have year-round products from Sweden, France and Italy,” Johan explains. The import of citrus from Turkey and Morocco is also decreasing, because Kalundbladh is shifting its focus to Spain. “Sweden is a small market of ten million consumers. The import from Spain is simpler than from Morocco.”
“We have about 650 types of fruit and vegetables in our assortment,” Johan explains the background of the company. “Of that, we supply about half directly to supermarkets, the other half is supplied to wholesalers.” Family company Kalundbladh was founded in 1930, and is located in Helsingborg. Besides the location in this Swedish city, the company has some banana ripening chambers in Malmö, a city a bit further south.
In recent years, the consumption of bananas decreased slightly, Johan estimates. Competition from other year-round available fruit puts pressure on the consumption of bananas. Kalundbladh supplies throughout the country, which means the fruit shouldn’t be transported all the way to the frozen north fully ripened. The fruit continues ripening during the two-day trip to northern consumers. “We can supply supermarkets close to us three times a day,” Johan explains. “Flexibility and knowledge are important for our customers.”
Supermarket surface for 50 million people
Demand for avocados is increasing. “We only offer the Hass. We’ve tried other varieties as well, but those sales were much more difficult.” A ready-to-eat avocado can cost up to 12 Swedish crown (€1.50). “We also sell many avocados sized 22 to 24, which we offer three for 10 crown.”
Ever since German discounter Lidl opened its first branch in the Scandinavian country about ten years ago, the retail market was shaken up only limitedly. Lidl now has 170 branches in Sweden. Their market share still doesn’t compare to that of market leader ICA, which, depending on the calculation, has a market share of 50 per cent. “Lidl makes a profit, and they’re doing well,” Johan says. “Swedish supermarkets have high prices, but they also have high costs. We have the amount of square metres for a country with 50 million inhabitants, and supermarkets have long opening hours, which costs a lot of money.”
Small wholesalers are disappearing as customers for Kalundbladh more and more. Older traders are retiring, and there’s often no one to take over the business. On the other hand, Johan has seen new customers coming into play. Vegetable subscriptions and the online market are emerging, resulting in new players looking for suppliers. “The internet market is growing, just like the market for vegetable subscriptions,” Johan concludes.
SE-250 05 Helsingborg
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