Global Food Crisis

Many Swedes Swallowing Higher Food Prices With a Shrug

James Owen in Stockholm, Sweden
for National Geographic News
June 10, 2008

Part nine of a special series that explores the local faces of the world's worst food crisis in decades.

Even in the wealthy Scandinavian country of Sweden, food shoppers have seen dramatic price increases in recent months tied to the skyrocketing costs of wheat, fuel, and other basic commodities.

But during a recent lunch hour on the well-heeled streets of central Stockholm, there are few signs of belt-tightening among the gourmands, as crowds flock to the bustling eateries.

It's a telling reminder of the disparate effects of the global food crisis, which have left many of the world's poor too cash-strapped for basic meals but have merely inconvenienced wealthy Americans and Europeans.

"We've had to put up the price of some of our dishes, but business is better this year if anything," said Per Lindelöf, manager of the Stockholm restaurant Stadshus Källaren.

The posh establishment inside City Hall is famous for hosting the annual banquet for Nobel Prize winners, which in 2007 cost 1,450 Swedish kroner (about U.S. $244) a head.

A typical meal at Stadshus Källaren could consist of a lobster velouté starter ($30) followed by fillet of turbot ($55).

"The turbot has really gone up a lot," Lindelöf noted.

But "the kind of customers we have aren't really price sensitive—if prices go up 10 Euros [$16 since] last year, they don't care so much."

Ethics, Not Prices

In Sweden, overall costs increased 7.3 percent from April 2007 to April 2008, according to Statistics Sweden.

Bills for food staples have jumped by large margins, such as fruit, up 12 percent; bread, 10.9 percent; and dairy, 10.4 percent, the government agency said.

Continued on Next Page >>




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