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Sweden's food would only last a week in an emergency, experts warn

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Sweden's food would only last a week in an emergency, experts warn
Swedish supermarkets rely heavily on imports. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT
12:27 CET+01:00
Sweden's food reserves are so low they would only last a week in the case of a national emergency, experts have warned.

The most recent episode of public broadcaster SVT's 'Agenda' show looked into Sweden's preparedness for crisis situations, and in particular how food supplies would cope in the case of war or power failure.

And according to volunteer organization the Civil Defence Association (Civilförsvarsförbundet), which assists Swedish authorities in crisis situations, Sweden's import-heavy supermarkets would struggle to cope for more than a week.

"Sweden has no food contingency. The level of self-sufficiency is low. Around 50 percent of what we consume is bought in from the EU, or imported from other countries outside the EU," Civilförsvarsförbundet chairperson Sven Lindgren told The Local.

"Sweden and Norway are the worst in Europe when it comes to agricultural production. But Norway, unlike Sweden, has extensive fish resources," he added.

It's estimated that neighbouring Finland by comparison is self-sufficient enough to survive for six months on its food stockpiles. Sweden got rid of its own contingency stockpiles at the end of 1990s when the tension from the Cold War eased, but with renewed uncertainty in the world, the Civilförsvarsförbundet has warned that emergency stocks should be brought back.

According to Lindgren, Sweden could also make strides in the area by decreasing its reliance on imports.

"You can increase food production within Sweden. There's potential: a good climate, plenty of good farmland with around three million hectares available, and plenty of fresh, clean water," he noted, adding that strict environmental and animal protection demands compared to other EU countries and high tax also hampers farming.

The Swedish government recently announced that it plans to invest more than one billion kronor by 2019 to achieve targets set in a new food strategy action plan, which aims to increase Swedish food production and sets goals for consumption of Swedish food.

Sweden's Interior Minister Anders Ygeman doesn't think that creating extensive food stockpiles is a modern solution however.

"We need to store certain foods, and we already store grain for example. Other foods are very difficult to store. It's more about national production and distribution," he told SVT.

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