A new guide from Malmö based Bergkvist Publishing will see Sweden’s grocery retailers – from major supermarket chains to boutique organic stores – ranked on sustainability.
The White Guide Green is an offshoot of Bergkvist’s White Guides series, which have been described as a ‘Nordic Michelin Guide’.
Bergkvist Publishing has been making considerable waves in the Scandinavian publishing world and currently produces over 50 titles, with a specialism in food and restaurants. It’s White Guides include restaurant and public kitchen ratings, with Junior and Senior versions that rate food in schools and care homes.
The company’s founder, Pär Bergkvist (pictured), admits that the new White Guide Green has presented “gigantic” challenges. Getting Sweden’s biggest food retailers – including the likes of Ica and Coop – signed up was not easy, but essential for the guide to claim to give a truly comprehensive picture of sustainability performance.
Grocery’ retail’s sheer complexity, and the diversity of different retail models, meant that agreeing ratings criteria was challenging too. Speaking to the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan, Bergkvist, observed that “nobody is 100% satisfied, that would be utopia” but added that the Guide couldn’t allow the grocery trade to “dictate the terms themselves”.
A team of 15-20 people will make unannounced visits to stores across Sweden looking at a range of sustainability measures, including environmental labelling, organic credentials, fair trade and social factors. Around 80% of the assessment work will done during the store visits, with an additional 20% gained through in-depth interviews with store managers.
“A team of 15-20 people will make unannounced visits to stores across Sweden looking a range of sustainability measures, including environmental labelling, organic credentials and fair trade and social factors”
Because of the sheer number of stores the biggest operators have, some will be asked to nominate their best performers during the first year of tests. Size and turnover of stores will also be factored in so that, as far as possible, like is compared to like. This is intended to avoid a scenario in which a small ‘dark green’ retailer automatically tops the overall rankings. The way sustainability goals are communicated to customers will also be an important measure of overall performance.
Main image: Ica store. Photo, Jessica Gow.
• The Nordic Organic Food Fair – the only organic food & drink trade show hosted in the Nordic region – takes place on 15-16 November 2017 at MalmöMässan, Sweden. For information about visiting or exhibiting visit nordicorganicexpo.com