How ICA is shifting the Swedish food system
ICA's is one of Sweden's biggest grocery stores. Hear how they are working with startups and growing the selection of plant-based, locally sourced foods throughout their stores.
Most of us buy our food from a grocery store. That makes them the most important interface for how we decide what food to buy and consequently, what food gets produced.
ICA is one of the biggest grocery retailers in Sweden. Every week, around 12 million people pass through their stores. Recognizing the central role they play in the everyday life of Swedes, ICA is intent on supporting the shift to a sustainable food system that will support biodiversity, plant-based products, and locally produced foods. They launched ICA Växa, a new unit of the organization, to help make this happen.
Today, I speak with Jacqueline Engdahl, the Head of ICA Växa, to hear what exactly their up to.
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Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech 2:43
You work for ICA, which is one of the biggest supermarkets in Sweden. Can you tell us when and how ICA got started?
Jacqueline Engdahl, ICA Växa 2:58
Yeah, sure. To go back to the origins, we have to go back 100 years when the Swedish society looked completely different. Hakon Swenson had the idea of joining different individual store owners and bringing efficiency across the grocery stores. So, we started about 100 years ago as a central purchasing order, which has since then both helped shape the Swedish society and build it with more services. Everything from distribution and communication to being a conglomerate with a bank, real estate, pharmacy…. We have over 1,200 stores in our network.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech 3:51
And as you just mentioned, back then Sweden looked completely different. So, what was the structure? Why did it make sense to put together a centralized system?