Fears over fake ‘Swedish’ strawberry sales

As Sweden continues to experience a homegrown strawberry shortage, there's a stir over whether some fruits labelled Swedish have actually been imported from overseas.

Fears over fake 'Swedish' strawberry sales
Sweden has a strawberry shortage. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Swedes love to snack on strawberries during the summer and frequently claim that the Nordic nation produces the best in the world. But recent chilly weather in Sweden created a shortage of the sweet fruits.

Now the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) says it is concerned that some retailers are labelling strawberries as Swedish when they are actually from foreign countries, in order to dupe customers into buying the in-demand local produce.

A spokesperson from the board, Kristina Mattsson, told Sveriges Radio network P4 Väst that the number of reported cases of berries suspected of being falsely advertised has tripled this summer compared to previous years.

READ ALSO: Swedish strawberry shortage 'a disaster'

She later explained to The Local that experts were now testing various fruits, with results expected to be released later this month.

The tests are set to take place in Germany, which has high-tech specialist equipment that can determine berries' origins by closely examining molecules and comparing them with those in a global database.

“Since Swedish strawberries are more expensive than foreign ones, it makes sense for us to have a higher vigilance when there’s a financial opportunity for traders to exploit the situation,” she said.

In the meantime her advise to customers is to closely check prices on berry boxes in stores, noting that Swedish strawberries are usually more expensive than those from other countries and that there should not be vast differences between the costs of different Swedish brands.

So, if a 15 kronor ($1.77) box of 'Swedish' strawberries is sitting next to others punnets marked 45 kronor, then there is a good chance the discounted box is fake.

She said that the Swedish Board of Agriculture was also carrying out detailed investigations to try to track down rogue strawberry sellers and traders.

“Often it’s about our dialogue with those selling the product, perhaps if they answer our questions in a deviating way, we sometimes have reason enough to test their berries,” she added.

By Elin Jönsson