Over the last 3 years, fruit and vegetable imports into Nordic countries have been steadily increasing. Vegetable imports over the past 3 years were valued at €1.74 billion and fruit imports at €2.77 billion; volumes have increased by 8% for vegetables and 5% for fruit, this is according to a recent report published by Eurofresh Distribution.
Sweden and Norway are the top importers for both the fruit and vegetable categories. With Sweden importing 768,832 of fruit for a total value of EUR 1.03 billion and 522,103 tons of fresh vegetables for a total value of EUR 627.37 million in 2015. Norway came in second place that same year with 446,212 tons of vegetables with a value of €548.8 million and 543,311 tons of fresh fruit worth €904.7 million.
What is striking is that the most popular imported vegetables in Sweden are tomatoes (89,135 tons), potatoes (52,846 tons) and carrots (with an import increase of 24%).
¨I am surprised by this because both potatoes and carrots are grown year round in Sweden, and tomatoes are also available for a good part of the year. As for tomatoes, this might be due to the demand for tomatoes on the vine, something that many Swedish growers have been slow to start growing themselves. Most of the domestic potatoes are sold loose, and I have noticed, as a consumer, that the specialty varieties sold in the packaging like Ratte, Cherie, Cecile, Asparges and Marilyn tend to often be imported by the supermarkets, but I think that this might be a price issue. We, as a company, always focus on the domestically grown products during their season and, since potatoes and carrots are all year round products, we don't see any need to import these. The Swedish potato-growers, for example, have sharpened their range and supply a lot of high quality potato-varieties these days. The need for import does simply not exist.” shared Anita Jansson from wholesaler, Hebe Frukt, in Sweden.
”It’s strange to me that imports have increased as well on the back of a push from consumers to buy locally and wanting to know more about growers connected to the food that they buy.”
Norway - €1.45 billion import market
Norway came in second after Sweden as the steady growth in its fresh produce imports reached a peak last year. The most valuable fresh vegetable imports into Norway are tomatoes, worth €107.7 million, followed by cauliflower and cabbages at €54.8 million.
Most fresh vegetables in Norway come from Spain. In fruit, Norway is a big importer of citrus (129,628 tons) and apples and pears (111,038 tons). In 2015, 60% of Norway’s apples came from Italy.
In contrast to Sweden, supplied by the Netherlands, Norway imports more from Spain, with a total value of €92.9 million in 2014 and €116.9 million for fresh fruits. Dutch imports reached €74.94 million.