I am currently spending a few days in Scandinavia, in particular, Sweden and Denmark. I arrived in Stockholm on Saturday to be greeted by over a foot of snow thinking this is normal for these parts. It turns out that it was the heaviest November snowfall for 111 years. It’s suddenly feeling a bit like Christmas! After spending more of the year focussing on Christmas than ever before it seems, those of us in the industry can become a little cynical about the festive season, but this has really put me in the mood!
I am here for work, of course, visiting three suppliers and attending two shows in four days, so a busy few days, but there is something about this culture which means you can be busy, but not stressed. That is the way they live here. Scandinavian restaurants, bars and products are trendy in the UK at present, and I wonder whether this is partly driven by aspiration from us Brits. The perception is that the standard of living is higher, and the lifestyle is more relaxed than at home. I haven’t bene here enough times to know whether this is indeed true, but even if it isn’t the perception can drive our tastes, perhaps?
The quality of the food I have eaten over the past two days has been stunning, as has the service, so I just wonder. The swedes certainly seem to have huge attention to detail when it comes to food. The quality of the ingredients is simply amazing, and judging by the number of people I saw today on a very cold, snowy afternoon in Stockholm in food halls where the prices would make your eyes water, I would expect that they spend a higher percentage of their sizeable average income here on food. Of course, it is only a snapshot, but I wonder whether we could use a little Scandinavian taste ourselves.
As many small food producers in the UK know, the demand for quality products here is huge, and many speciality food producers consider Scandinavia to be one of their strongest expect markets. That despite the population of the four countries added together being less than half the population of the UK. So, if you are not aware of this, talk to people who are and with the weak pound, you could be onto something.
Apparently, no snow in Copenhagen where I am heading tomorrow, but plenty of Hygge. If you don’t know what that is, there is a great book called, “How to Live Danishly” by Helen Russell. Well worth a read as it explores the culture differences between a life in the UK to Denmark, written by someone who moved there for a year with her husband’s job at Lego, would you believe! For now, Hygge is the Danish concept of living well & living simply. I’ll drink a toast to that!