How Sweden's semlor buns are the 'lifebuoy' keeping bakeries afloat

TT/The Local
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How Sweden's semlor buns are the 'lifebuoy' keeping bakeries afloat
Linda Kosterhed, owner of Kosterheds Konditori in Stockholm, says that semlor are helping keep her business afloat. Photo: Samuel Steén/TT

Cafés and bakeries in Sweden are suffering as customers cut back on sourdough and cinnamon buns. But they still seem willing to splash out on semlor.


Linda Kosterhed, at Kosterheds Konditori in Solna, Stockholm, expects to sell 1,500 of the cream and almond paste delights on Fettisdagen, as Swedes call Shrove Tuesday - traditionally the last day before the Lent fast. 

She's had them on sale since January 2nd, but it's on Fettisdagen itself that she expects her customers to really have a blow out. 

"It's like Christmas, and those of us who are working are going to celebrate with a 'semmel-AW' [a Semla feast consumed after work]". 

The Association of Swedish Bakers & Confectioners are referring to semlor as the industry's "lifebuoy" due to their importance for its members' bottom lines. 

"We have noticed that everyday consumption, like a sandwich and a cup of coffee, has fallen, but that on holidays such as fettisdagen, consumers are actually buying more than they normally do," Mattias Lundell, the organisation's chief executive, told the TT newswire. "I've heard that sales of semlor are going extremely well."    

He said that the difficult times for bakers began with the pandemic, continued in the winter of 2022 when bakers were hit by high electricity prices, only to be followed last year with a cost of living crisis. 


Linda Kosterhed agrees with the picture painted by Lundell. 

"People are holding back a bit on ordinary days, but when it comes to semlor it's clear that they are willing to spoil themselves a bit, especially on Tuesdays and on the weekend," she said. 

Despite the semla "lifebuoy", Lundell warned that more bakeries were currently going bankrupt than during the pandemic. He also said it might be a problem this year that Shrove Tuesday was falling so early on February 13th.  

"After Shrove Tuesday, sales normally fall more steeply than they rose in the run-up," he said.

"What will happen this year when Shrove Tuesday falls so early?"


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