Sweden's black market for strawberries

Alexander Abad-Santos, writing for the Atlantic Wire:

“In a survey of consumers in Southern Sweden from 2009, over 90 percent of the respondents said that ‘they, or someone in their household, had bought strawberries by late June.'” reports Serious Eats’ Robyn Lee. “Sweden meets the demands by harvesting about 15,000,000 kilograms of strawberries a year, or three to four liters per person in Sweden,” she adds.

Which means undercutting farmers is a serious offense. “On Tuesday, you could buy strawberries imported from Germany for eight kronor [around $1.13] per liter. Then you can consider if it is pure black trade,” a concerned strawberry consumer told the Dagens Nyheter paper. Real Swedish strawberries go for about 11 kronor ($1.56) reports The Local–a figure which adds up for local growers.

If you follow the thread far enough, you soon realize that urbanization is ultimately responsible for Sweden’s black market for strawberries. Swedes love berries. and they used to love berry picking in the forest. But the number of Swedes who pick berries is declining as more young people grow up in the city and don’t forge the same bond with the countryside as their forebears.

Swedish farmers are now responsible for sating the urban desires. But if imports undermine Swedish-specific cultivars, another cultural thread would be severed. Genetic testing of strawberries may seem excessive from some perspectives, but put in the context of Sweden’s rapid urbanization, it doesn’t seem so odd.

Thanks to the support of readers like you, Per Square Mile remains independent and ad-free.

If you enjoy what you read, please consider supporting the site with a donation.

opening times