The Minister and his hopes for success.

Sweden: Europe's New #1 Food Country?

Swedish meatballs and pancakes have made the rounds internationally, yet most people would be hard-pressed to say that Sweden is a country renowned for its food. But this Nordic nation will join the league of European culinary giants soon enough, at least if Agriculture Minister Eskil Erlandsson has his way.

He says that the government has a vision that Sweden will become Europe’s top food destination. His campaign, called “Sweden – the new food country,” rests on a 22 million dollar investment, and aims to create new jobs and enliven the Swedish countryside by tempting tourists to explore the nation’s more out-of-the way culinary experiences.

It was announced in 2008, but recently gained new momentum after 25 so-called “food ambassadors” were announced by the minister at a press conference. Erlandsson said that the new ambassadors are business owners and entrepreneurs from throughout Sweden who all have one thing in common: they are quote “united in their love of food.”

They will, the minister says, have the role of creating networks so people can develop their ideas and start new businesses. Food entrepreneurs throughout Sweden can apply for grants from a fund of 50 million Swedish kronor, or about 7 million US dollars, to support their culinary business ideas.

And Eskil Erlandsson hopes in turn that the Swedish countryside will be the big winner in the equation. Tourism is a hot industry in Sweden, and accounts for greater profits than exports of steel and cars combined. The government’s goal is the creation of 10,000 new jobs and several thousand small businesses as a result of the investment.

But the question remains: can Sweden really become Europe’s new food destination?

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