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Ikea affirms bid to ditch Swedish food brands

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Ikea affirms bid to ditch Swedish food brands
12:02 CET+01:00
Swedish furniture giant Ikea said on Tuesday it has no plans to reverse a decision to stop selling a number of well-known Swedish food brands in its stores despite a barrage of complaints from angry customers.

“The overall strategy remains in place,” Ikea spokesperson Ylva Magnusson told the Local.

“The goal is to have around 150 Ikea-branded food items for sale in our stores.”

In October, Ikea announced plans to replace its assortment of Swedish-brand eats in favour of exclusively Ikea-branded food.

The primary reason for the change, according to Magnusson, is to give Ikea more control of the food products on offer on Ikea stores in order to guarantee production and quality standards.

The move set off an angry wave of complaints from Swedes living abroad and other aficionados of famous Swedish brands such as Cloetta chocolates, Abba herring, Kalle's caviar spread, and cookies by Göteborgskex, many of which are only available in Ikea food shops in various parts of the world.

Facebook pages protesting the decision attracted thousands of members who aired their frustration and were urged to write the company to complain.

“The world's worst decision,” Maria Prunty, a Swede living in Nevada in the US, wrote on one of the "Only IKEA brand on food? - No thank you" Facebook page.

“At Ikea they have a sign that says bring a taste of Sweden home. This is no longer true!,” wrote New York-based Swede Thomas Noe on the “Bring REAL food back to IKEA Swedeshop” Facebook page.

Magnusson characterized as “misleading” reports in the Swedish press on Tuesday suggesting that Ikea had reversed the controversial decision, explaining that Ikea was still stocking non-Ikea brand foods as they ramped up production of their own goods.

“We've found we haven't been able to roll out our own products as quickly as we would have liked, so in order to ensure that our customers still have a complete assortment of products, we're still open to having products from external suppliers,” she said.

Magnusson added that she sympathized with customers' ongoing concerns about Ikea's plans to stock exclusively own-brand food items.

“It may take time to adjust, and I understand it may be difficult, but I hope that people are curious and dare to give Ikea brands a chance,” she said.

“Ikea's own recipes are based on Swedish tastes and characteristics, so our customers will still be able to get a taste of Sweden even if the label on the outside is different.”

According to Magnusson, it may take “several months” before the transition to a complete assortment of Swedish brands is complete, calling the change “exciting”.

However, she held out the possibility that disgruntled fans of traditional Swedish food brands may still be able to affect Ikea's future plans.

“Nothing is set in stone,” said Magnusson.

“Moving forward, what's important is that we continue to listen to our customers.”

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