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Swedish food campaign flops with job losses

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Swedish food campaign flops with job losses
Eskil Erlandsson pictured at a 'Matlandet Sverige' event in 2009. Photo: Bertil Ericson / TT
15:57 CET+01:00
A campaign to knock France off its perch and establish Sweden as the haute cuisine leaders of the world has left a bitter taste in the mouth with more than 10,000 agriculture jobs lost since it was launched.

Back in 2008 the campaign was launched to much fanfare by then agriculture minister Eskil Erlandsson who said that 'Matlandet Sverige' was "going to put Sweden on the world map as a country of good food." 

Erlandsson, who is now the minister for rural affairs, also claimed the scheme would generate 20,000 jobs.

However, five years later the campaign has failed to set tongues wagging with more than 10,000 agriculture jobs lost in that period. The project has already eaten up 1.2 billion kronor ($190 million) in costs but has been defended by Erlandsson.

"With the focus on matlandet (culinary nation) we have provided opportunities for companies to develop in rural parts of the country and that is something I will continue to focus on," he told Aftonbladet.

He added; "It's true that a number of jobs in agriculture have been reduced but unfortunately that is part of a structural transformation that has been going on for a long time across all of Europe."

The campaign, which had the internal working title of 'Eskil eats,' had big ambitions when it hit the headlines five years ago. It came in for harsh criticism in a recent report ordered by the government on the effectiveness of the project.

Among the findings was the suggestion that it was "unclear" how the 20,000 new jobs in the food sector were going to be created.

Figures released by the Swedish board of agriculture revealed that 10,000 agriculture jobs were lost between 2007 - 2010.

Political opponents have been quick to pick on the bones of the failed food campaign with Kew Nordqvist of the Swedish Green Party saying; "Culinary Sweden is so loose in what it outlines. What is it about in reality?" he told Aftonbladet.

Erlandsson deflected the criticism and said that 8,500 new jobs in the food sector have been created since the campaign was launched. 

The Local/pr

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