MalmöMässan, in Sweden, hosted nearly 4,000 attendees Nov.1-2 for the Nordic Organic Food Fair and Natural Products Scandinavia. The co-located trade shows are now the Nordic regions biggest for natural and organic food and drink, health, beauty, eco-living and self-care products. This year’s sold-out event attracted ten percent more attendees, 53 percent additional exhibitors (345), and representatives from over 2,000 companies and 59 countries.

Participants called it an “essential visit”’ for seeing innovative products and trends in the thriving Nordic market. Swedish and Danish visitors were by far the largest audience at the event (67%), with key buyers and managers from many of Scandinavia’s wholesalers, and retailers. The city of Malmö was a fitting host, as it transitions from being industrial into a model of sustainable planning and the first fair trade city in Sweden.

The concurrent shows were divided into areas for Natural Living, Health & Nutrition, Natural Beauty, and Health Food.

Good Reason to Gather in Sweden

“Scandinavia has some of the highest expenditure rates for natural and organic products in the world,” comments Amarjit Sahota, president of research firm Organic Monitor in the UK. The Nordic market for natural and organic cosmetics is one of the fastest growing in Europe. And, it is a similar story for the Nordic health and wellness market.

According to Euromonitor International research, although the Nordic countries only represented 5% of the total population of Western Europe, their share of retail value sales in the health and wellness packaged food category was an impressive 28 percent. Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden all continue to spend more per capita per year than any other country in Western Europe.

Meanwhile, the standards of certification for quality are even higher than most governmental agencies, as with the Swedish organic certifier Krav. Sweden’s most well-known sustainability label for food, KRAV is based on principles of organic farming with especially rigorous requirements on animal care, health, social responsibility and climate impact.
The market for KRAV-labeled products makes up about 80 % of the total organic market in Sweden. “People are asking why not organic, instead of why organic, that’s a big change in consumer attitudes,” says Cecilia Ryegård, editor, and founder of Ekoweb. Projections put the Swedish organic food market on course to double by 2025, but a lack of raw materials and organic farmers could be a problem for future growth.

Throughout the 1990′s, the Swedish government encouraged and supported growth in the country’s organic farming, setting a target of having 30% of the land being farmed by organic standards within 20 years. In achieving that goal, they can now boast having some of the highest agricultural standards on the planet.

Walking the Floor

Highlights from the Organic Theater included “Saving Our Soil,” a presentation by Craig Sams addressing the urgency of soil conservation in what the United Nations has declared the “International Year of Soils.” In the Natural Theater, attendees learned “How Fair Trade Can Contribute to a More Sustainable World,” presented by Magdalena Streiffert, Secretary General of Fairtrade Sweden. Participants could also explore and cast votes for their favorite products at the Natural and Organic Innovation Showcase. Numerous business leaders demonstrated the Nordic values of being in balance with nature and each other as they strove to expand their reach and influence with participants. Karl Kristian Bergman Jensen and Marinus Blaajerg Sørensen were honored with the Natural Lifetime Achievement Award for their work with New Nordic, a specialist manufacturer of dietary supplements and natural health products with distribution in over 50,000 points of sale worldwide.

Attendees enjoyed the Nordic hospitality and delicious products that demonstrated the region’s high standards for quality and sustainably sourced ingredients. Alex Smith, president of Alara Wholefoods in the UK, greeted visitors at his booth and explained how his company plans to be the most sustainable food manufacturer on earth by 2018. Irene von Arronet, co-founder of Natural Organic Cosmetics Sweden, explained the benefits of allying with her trade association for brands that provide natural, organic skincare and beauty products.

While the worldwide attention on organics and wellness continues to increase, this thriving industry event will return to Malmö on 16-17 November 2016.