Systembolaget goes local

Sweden's state-run alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget has responded to demand for more locally-produced items by extending its range to promote small-scale producers from the turn of the year.

Systembolaget goes local

“Interest and demand for small-scale and locally produced alcoholic drinks has increased significantly over the past few years… It is therefore natural for us to now offer our customers across the country and improved service for these products,” Systembolaget CEO Magdalena Gerger said in a company statement on Tuesday.

Systembolaget, which operates a chain of over 400 stores countrywide, plans to make it easier to find and purchase local produce.

“This is a way for us to meet the increased demand of our customers… It could also contribute to raising interest for locally-produced food and drink,” Magdalena Gerger said.

Gerger underlined that the state-owned firm’s new local produce initiative will be made “within Systembolaget’s framework for responsible alcohol sales”.

The firm has defined locally produced as “wines, beers, cider and spirits produced in limited volumes at, for example, ‘farms’ in Sweden” and which do not feature in the chain’s regular assortment of products.

Systembolaget has also specified that the promotion also extends to products in “local demand” which could mean that specific stores stock products in particular high demand by their customers, regardless of country of origin.

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Swedes warned: Vodka won’t protect you from the coronavirus

Sweden's state-run alcohol chain Systembolaget has advised customers not to buy its spirits as a substitute for hand sanitiser.

Swedes warned: Vodka won't protect you from the coronavirus
Stockholmers queuing outside Systembolaget before Easter. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

One of the best ways of avoiding the new coronavirus and prevent its spread is to wash your hands often with soap and water, according to the Swedish Public Healh Agency.

If you don't have access to soap or running water, hand sanitiser is the next best option, but the product has been flying off the shelves as shoppers try to get their hands on a bottle.

Sweden's state-owned alcohol chain Systembolaget has been forced to put up signs in several of its stores informing customers that alcohol such as vodka and gin does not work as a substitute for hand sanitiser.

“NOT HAND SANITISER,” read the signs.

“We have had a few questions from customers and have put up signs in those stores,” said Systembolaget press officer Therese Elmgren.

“But it is not possible, just as the signs say. The percentage (of alcohol) needs to be higher.”

An alcohol concentration of at least 60 percent is needed for disinfectant to be effective in killing viruses or bacteria. Absolut Vodka, to use an example of a popular Swedish vodka brand, has an alcohol concentration of 40 percent.

However, some of the ingredients are the same, and during the coronavirus crisis Absolut has adapted parts of its manufacturing in order to produce pure alcohol which can be used for cleaning purposes, instead of vodka for consumption. This pure alcohol then needs to be mixed with gel, manufactured separately, to create usable sanitiser for the healthcare sector.