Sweden’s Minister of Agriculture, Sven-Erik Bucht visited Hong Kong on 8 – 10 May 2017, in connect with Asia’s leading food fair Hofex, and as an export promotion follow-up to his previous visit in 2015.
The purpose of the minister’s Hong Kong trip was to promote Swedish food exports and make more people want to buy Swedish food. 95 percent of all food consumed in Hong Kong today is imported. Sweden’s export opportunities are also good because the Hong Kong farmers value food security in particular and Swedish food is well known for its high quality. Also, in both Hong Kong and Mainland China, demand for safe and sustainable food is increasing, which creates good conditions for Swedish exports to the region.
On 8 May Sven-Erik Bucht attended the opening ceremony of Hofex, as the kick-off activity for his visit, which was characterized by meetings to raise Swedish food, businesses and products. The minister met with stakeholders with food production and monitored Swedish export interests in bilateral talks.
At Hofex the Swedish minister visited the Swedish pavilion for meetings with Swedish entrepreneurs and important stakeholders from Hong Kong. He also had a lunch meeting with representatives of the Global Food Safety & Technology Forum. After he paid a visit to a laboratory at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
On 9 May he held at bilateral meeting with Dr. Ko Wing-man, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health, as a follow-up to previous visits in November 2015, focusing on issues concerning exports of Swedish foodstuffs to Hong Kong.
“I offered Dr. Ko Wing-man reindeer meet from Tornedalen, which he appreciated very much. The efforts to get to export reindeer meet to Hong Kong continues and we are close to get the approval,” reported Sven-Erik Bucht.
Then followed a lunch meeting with stakeholders from restaurant Bija’s rooftop farm for knowledge acquisition about organic farming in the city environment and the restaurant’s experience in efforts to reduce food waste.
Sven-Erik Bucht also made a study visit to a rooftop farm at the University of Hong Kong. There, university students manage the cultivation as part of their education.
A dinner was then held at the Swedish chef Björn Franzén’s restaurant, Franzén’s Kitchen, along with important stakeholders in Hong Kong.
On 10 May a breakfast meeting with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce’s food group followed. And the minister also made a study visit to Moreganic Showroom, a shop that shows and sells Swedish KRAV-labeled products.
There, Bucht found everything from blueberry powder and blackcurrant drink to tomato puree and crispbread.
”The demand for ecologic food has increased in both Hong Kong and China in recent years. The interest in Swedish food is big since it has a good reputation and is seen to be of good quality,” the minister reported.
“It has been very inspiring to meet everyone that works so hard to make more people discovering Swedish food,” he concluded his trip.
“I am truly impressed by all the Swedish companies I have met working not only here in Hong Kong but all over Asia. It has been a jam-packed programme, very intense. And I have had very good contacts with my minister colleagues here, both within finance and food – important contacts that can enable us smooth and efficient export permissions of our food into Hong Kong. It is my second trip to Hong Kong and I am met by the warm hospitality. And I now hope for fast results so that we quite soon will be able to see more top class Swedish food products on the food plates here in Hong Kong but also in the rest of Asia.”
In January the Swedish government submitted the bill ‘A national food strategy for Sweden – more jobs and sustainable growth throughout the country’ to parliament. The strategy will form the basis of Sweden’s food policy up to 2030.
“Swedish food creates jobs, sustainable growth and values for society as a whole. In addition to meeting the demand for food, we gain open landscapes and lively rural communities. The national food strategy will help strengthen competitiveness and to ensure the potential of Swedish food production is fully realised to the benefit of actors and stakeholders throughout the entire food supply chain – from primary production all the way to the consumer,” stated the Swedish government.