• Sweden edition
 
Horsemeat scandal
Ikea official: I'd still eat our Swedish meatballs

Ikea official: I'd still eat our Swedish meatballs

Published: 25 Feb 2013 17:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Feb 2013 17:50 GMT+01:00

While the discovery of horsemeat in Ikea's Swedish meatballs may put consumers off the iconic staple of everyman Swedish cuisine, it's unlikely to do any long term damage to Ikea's or Sweden's brand.

Ikea, most famous for its flatpack furniture, was caught flatfooted when it was dragged into Europe's ongoing horsemeat scandal on Monday.

"It came as a surprise to us," Ikea spokeswoman Anna Pilkrona-Godden told The Local following reports that food inspectors had found traces of horsemeat in frozen meatballs destined for sale in an Ikea store in the Czech Republic.

"We are treating the matter with the utmost seriousness. The quality of all our products is a top priority."

Shortly after news emerged that Ikea-brand meatballs had been shown to contain horsemeat, the Swedish furniture giant halted meatball sales across Sweden and in 14 other countries across Europe.

While the meatball recall, as well as consumer concerns about the quality of food served and sold at Ikea stores, may provide the company with a short-term headache, branding experts say it's unlikely that the Ikea brand will suffer any long-term damage in the wake of the horsemeat discovery.

"Strong brands are usually fairly resistant to these types of scandals. I would expect Ikea to bounce back from this," Sara Rosengren, a senior fellow at the Stockholm School of Economics' Centre for Consumer Marketing, told The Local.

The reports come amid an ongoing effort by the Swedish government to raise the country's profile as a culinary nation.

Launched in 2008, the initiative aims to make Sweden "the new culinary nation in Europe" and appears to have had a desired effect, with Swedish food sales in the UK up by 30 percent in the last five years.

Ikea has also boosted its efforts to play a bigger role in food sales, deciding in 2011 to ditch many famous Swedish food brands from its stores in favour of own-brand Swedish food staples such as meatballs, pickled herring, and crisp bread.

Being dragged into Horsegate would not be the first time the furniture sellers are questioned. The company has also been hit with several scandals in the last year, including an admission that it had used prison labour in East Germany.

Ikea was also stared down for sexism after it was revealed it ad airbrushed women out of the version of its catalogue available in Saudi Arabia.

However, Rosengren explained that since the horemeat scandal isn't limited to Sweden or Ikea, the discovery of horsemeat in Ikea's meatballs won't have a large effect on people's perceptions of either, although Sweden's efforts to become a "food nation" could take a hit.

"As Sweden is not quite as strong a brand when it comes to food, it's possible that it might detract from efforts to raise Sweden's culinary profile," she said.

"But the connection is rather abstract, but I'd guess that perceptions of Swedish meatballs will be more affected than views about either Sweden as a country or Ikea.

"In the short term, people may not be as keen on Swedish meatballs as they were before. But in the long term, scandals like this tend to be forgotten."

A key to ensuring that Ikea gets past the scandal is swift action, Rosengren pointed out.

"Ikea has to take it seriously and do something about it. But if it's a one-off event and is handled with care, the long term effects will be limited," she said.

Ikea's Pilkrona-Godden said it was difficult to compare the severity of the horsemeat discovery with other recent scandals, but said the company wanted to maintain an "open dialogue" with consumers.

She emphasized that Ikea customers shouldn't have doubts about the Swedish furniture giant's ability to also provide high-quality food, despite the horsemeat discovery in Ikea meatballs.

"We acted quickly to stop meatball sales because we wanted to assuage any customer concerns," she said, adding that the company is conducting further tests, the results of which are expected later in the week.

When asked whether she would eat Ikea's Swedish meatballs, Pilkrona-Godden answered in the affirmative.

"Yes, I think I would. I feel totally confident about them," she said.

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

21:15 February 25, 2013 by salalah
That is the only part of a horse I would not eat....
22:07 February 25, 2013 by StockholmSam
Somehow, I think that the only moment the spokesperson for Ikea would ever actually eat Ikea meatballs would be as part of a PR stunt.
07:19 February 26, 2013 by truthcode
disgusting meal ,Swedish can only eat this ,poor food

do not eat beef cow beef ?????????
11:26 February 26, 2013 by SimonDMontfort
...lat time I dined at an IKEA restaurant, girl behind the counter said 'We've just cooked some meatballs - aaaaannnnnnddddd they're off!'

Lol!
17:51 March 2, 2013 by Steggles
Once the horse meat is removed they just wont taste the same!
Today's headlines
Ikea to introduce 'green' vegetarian meatballs

Ikea to introduce 'green' vegetarian meatballs

Swedish furniture giant Ikea is planning to put vegetarian meatballs on the menu in an attempt to cut down on its carbon footprint, the company has announced. READ () »

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

The Swedish government has proposed scrapping the 25-year span for repaying student loans, by suggesting those who attend higher education should keep paying the money back well into retirement. READ () »

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage
The crayfish cage in the picture is not the one mentioned in the story. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage

Police in eastern Sweden have launched a preliminary investigation of animal cruelty after two puppies were found drowned in a crayfish cage. READ () »

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat
Rickard Rundgren Björk of the coastguard services speaks to the media after the rescue operation on April 19th 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin /TT

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat

Three Saturday morning sailors had a lucky escape after their small boat collided and sank after it crashed into a cruise ship whilst sailing in the Stockholm archipelago. READ () »

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK
Sofie Marie Jansson. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK

British police have found the missing Swedish girl Sofie Jansson in London, exactly a week after she was last seen, with authorities saying she is doing well. READ () »

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Sweden's opposition party has stepped up its efforts to secure the pensioner vote by pledging to lower taxes for the elderly and make higher earners pay more. READ () »

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend
Showan Shattak pictured in Malmö before his attack. Photo: Facebook

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend

The 25-year-old man, whose stabbing by neo-Nazis sparked mass demonstrations across Sweden, has made a strong recovery in hospital and took to social media to thank supporters for campaigning against fascism. READ () »

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
Advertisement:
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

738
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com