Global Food Crisis

Many Swedes Swallowing Higher Food Prices With a Shrug

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But far from spurring riots, strikes, and murders like those witnessed in developing nations, the price hikes have had little noticeable effect on Sweden's higher-end restaurants, markets, and butcheries.

At Mäster Anders in the ritzy Kungsholmen district, lunch was already getting underway by 11:15 a.m. as black-clad hostesses showed customers to their tables.

The restaurant serves traditional Swedish cuisine such as herring ($22), char ($40), and raw minced beef ($33). The set lunch featuring fish is 115 kroner ($20).

"Beef has gone up the most, but Swedish meats are always very expensive. I guess fish has increased too," said head chef Anders Palacios.

"We have raised prices on our menu recently, but not too much because I don't want to intimidate people. It hasn't affected the number of customers. It's a busy place."

The food cost increases also haven't forced any menu alterations, he said.

"The only change has been because of ethical reasons—so no more charcoal prawns," Palacios said.

The prawns, farmed intensively in Asia, have been dropped because of concerns over their ecological impact.

Money to Spend

Down the street at the British-style butcher Taylors and Jones, co-owner Gareth Jones is replenishing his stock of bespoke sausages after a hectic weekend.

"The small price increases we've seen so far we're swallowing," Jones said.

"If you're at the premium end of the market we're at, I don't think prices have gone up too much. I think the supermarkets and out-of-town shops have been more affected."

Nor have rising food inflation and grocery bills apparently dented the spending of his clientele.

"Most of our customers are upper to middle class," the Welsh butcher added. "We've only been open six months and our customer base is growing—all we're seeing is an upward trend."

Retailers tell a similar story at Hötorgshallens, an upmarket food hall in Stockholm's Norrmalm area.

Kajsa Karlsson of the delicatessen Bondens Matbord is busy slicing up organic label salamis and cheeses. She can tell you the Swedish region and even the farm each product is from.

"People want this sort of food, so we don't have a problem," Karlsson said. "We haven't had to change our prices, and we couldn't lower them because we are so small."

Ken Fujinuma is a sales assistant at Hav, a downtown fishmonger and party caterer. Lobster, octopus, Baltic herring, pike, perch, salmon, and halibut are among the items on display.

The wholesale price of farmed fish hasn't budged, Fujinuma said, adding, "It's our local Swedish fishes that have gone up.

"We have raised the cost of some of our homemade products like picked herring," he continued, "but, you know, our customers tend to have more money."

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