How to Sweden

Sweden may be a monopoly market, but there are opportunities for wine producers apart from Systembolaget. Felicity Carter explains.

Systembolaget alcohol sales by category, 2016
Systembolaget alcohol sales by category, 2016; SOURCE: ALKO 2017

Considering that Sweden’s alcohol monopoly is a government agency whose entire mission is to make sure people drink responsibly, you’d expect it to be housed in a grim building. But its historic curved ceilings, light-filled rooms and friendly staff make it a welcoming place, much like Sweden itself. 

Ask anybody here for details of what they do, and they’ll tell you, because Systembolaget is nothing if not transparent. The same ethos permeates Systembolaget’s stores, which are neatly laid out, with a wide product range that’s easy to navigate. Depending on whose figures you trust, Systembolaget is responsible for up to 79 percent of Swedish alcohol consumption.

Step outside into central Stockholm and there’s a whole other world of wine ...

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