Swedish organic and sustainability label KRAV's role includes developing organic standards and promoting the KRAV label. It has 7,000 certified companies and approximately 9,000 products. Organic & Wellness News' Warren Beaumont spoke with KRAV's Anita Falkenek about the label, its new focus and sustainability.

OWN: Is the KRAV label aiming to be a sustainability and eco-label to appeal to more organic companies and consumers beyond Sweden and Scandinavia, and what is its strategy?

AF: KRAV can be seen side by side with other labels on products that are sold in Sweden and in other countries. KRAV is always co-branded with the EU-label for organic products.

The KRAV label may have a higher price due to stricter requirements for animal welfare, climate, and social accountability.

During 2017 the organic market share was almost 10 percent in Sweden and increasing slightly, (the published figures show) it is 9.3 percent in Sweden compared with 10 percent in Denmark.

However, organic's share of the Sweden organic market has not increased at the same rate as the year before.

We are trying step by step to make our requirements more user-friendly, we also want to have partnerships with our customers. We are discussing how we can add value to the retailers to help drive and develop more sales.

Our strategy is to help customers make sustainable and responsible actions and we are communicating this strategy.

Partnerships are more important such as with energy companies to offer fossil-free and solar energy, and we need to look into rules and criteria for processors. As before, we contract third-party auditors to verify organic certification.

We aim to have close relationships with Scandinavian companies that sell products on the Swedish market, but we are not a pan-Scandinavia label.

OWN: The KRAV label is found in major supermarkets in Denmark known for their organic and ethical products; is this a missed opportunity?

Yes, it´s true that you can find KRAV-label products in other countries, foremost in the Nordic countries. We also know that KRAV is well known and appreciated in B to B sales when companies export their products to several different markets. We see this as natural growth and offer information in English for both consumer and businesses.

We are also welcoming initiatives from KRAV-certified companies to promote the additional value with the KRAV-label when they export. But our focus, for the time being, will be the Swedish market and to raise awareness amongst Swedish consumers.

OWN: The new White Guide Green that charts sustainability in Sweden's food stores, is this a success and who was the winner of the Great Organic Prize?

AF: This is a very exciting award indeed, especially to contribute to raising the bar amongst the food stores and encourage the personnel in the sustainability work. The winner of the Great Organic Prize of the Year went to Coop Forum Sisjön in Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast. They were awarded this prize for their continued work to connect their sustainability initiatives with their customers.

OWN: The new EU organic regulations are due to take effect from 2021. Will this present major compliance issues for KRAV members or are Swedish organic farmers already meeting cited issues such as organics grown in greenhouses?

AF: Yes, the new EU regulation 848/2018 will be very demanding for greenhouse producers. However, according to our competent authorities, some details are not finalized yet for example regarding the production of salads and herbs in small pots.

The final outcome will have a great effect on growers who today are KRAV-certified. Both for KRAV-certified growers who use demarcated beds for example tomatoes and cucumbers and have been doing that for decades and for the KRAV-certified greenhouse as such, the new regulation is already a problem.

There has been a long-term uncertainty regarding production in demarcated beds, and now the phasing out begins. This has however started a discussion about sustainability and organic production according to the EU-regulation, which we hope will be an opportunity to increase the interest for KRAV-certified production and other organic certifications which go beyond the EU-regulation.

OWN: KRAV introduced tougher, environmentally-friendly packaging rules for companies using KRAV certification. How has this progressed?

AF: New packaging rules were introduced in 2015, modified and entering into force from January 2018. During 2017 we developed several tools and guidelines for the KRAV certified companies in order to raise the bar and help the companies to prepare for the new requirements. The tools that we developed are available on our website and now used by the companies.

The most used tool is the step by step KRAV Packaging Guide towards environmentally friendly packaging.

The purpose of the guide is to simplify and clarify the work towards using environmentally friendly packaging. Furthermore, we also trained over a hundred KRAV- auditors in our packaging requirements, which have raised the awareness and focus during the audits.

OWN: Organic Sweden has taken over the export and trade fair promotion role; what will KRAV's role be now and what is a recent initiative?

AF: KRAV has a new strategy in place and we also want to streamline our role as a private standard owner better. The potential for export of organic and KRAV-labelled products is huge, but it was difficult for us to embrace the real potential with our limited resources.  Luckily enough, we are several organizations working in the organic sphere in Sweden and our common vision is to improve our efficiency.

Organic Sweden's role is the Swedish platform for the organic market in Sweden with the mission to increase the sales and export share of organic and KRAV-labeled products. Thus, it was a natural step for us to hand over the role for the coordination of the organic export so that this can flourish.

Step by step, Business Sweden and Organic Sweden are growing their common working methods and developing both the content and the 'how' concerning export.