French-owned Swedish vodka brand Absolut is produced near the picturesque town of Åhus, using only winter wheat grown on the fertile fields of southern Sweden. The company makes a big deal of this.
“Every drop of water and every seed of wheat comes from one water source, one village and one community. It is called One Source, the reason why no matter where you are in the world Absolut will always have the same high quality,” reads a mission statement on Absolut's website.
The Absolut factory in Åhus. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT
But a poor harvest of winter wheat has forced the company, which has had its factory in Åhus for more than 100 years, to give up part of its mission of sourcing wheat exclusively from the Skåne region.
“In terms of geography the supply of winter wheat in Skåne is usually enough, but this year we have had to go north of Skåne, though still southern Sweden, to secure the volumes,” Anna Schreil, head of production at Absolut, told Swedish agriculture magazine ATL.
The company has only had to venture as far as Östergötland, which is about halfway between Skåne and Stockholm, and the hiccup is said not to have affected production at the distillery.
You may think that such an incident is of marginal importance, but southern Swedes are fiercely protective of regional products and the story still made headlines in Sweden over the weekend.
Absolut was founded, under a different name, in 1879 by Lars Olsson Smith, the Swedish liquor chief who challenged Stockholm's alcohol marketing monopoly by selling outside the city at a lower price. It was sold to French group Pernod Ricard in 2008 and is one of the world's most well-known vodka brands.