Policy Options for Sustainable Food Consumption – Review and Recommendations for Sweden. Mistra Sustainable Consumption report 1:10
Report, 2021

The environmental impact of the average Swede’s diet exceeds the planetary limits for the food system in most areas. Over 15% of consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions come from food in Sweden. Sweden’s agricultural landscape has the largest proportion of European Red List species of all landscape types in Sweden and food imports are associated with high rates of land use, pesticides and veterinary antibiotics in other countries. Our diet is also not sustainable in terms of health – for example, 51% of Swedes are overweight and many of the most common diseases and causes of death are linked to diet.

This report identifies and discusses policy instruments that the state and other public actors could introduce to steer food consumption in Sweden towards a more environmentally sustainable diet. Seventeen policy instruments operating either through knowledge and support, changes in relative prices, or regulation and requirements have been identified and previous research on policy effectiveness, costs and acceptance has been mapped out in a way that we hope is clear and easy to understand. Based on the current state of knowledge, we have formulated three recommendations on what public actors could do to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system.
1.Intensify work in the public sector
2.Develop national targets for sustainable food consumption
3.Develop and implement effective and attractive policy instrument packages

The mapping and analysis show that there is a need for research on policy instruments for environmentally sustainable food consumption, particularly when it comes to combinations of instruments. However, there is a sufficient evidence base for the immediate development and implementation of policy instruments to deal with the climate, environmental and health impacts of food. A focus on targets and policy instruments in the food area, as outlined above, is also fully in line with the EU’s new Farm-to-Fork strategy. The policy instruments discussed in the report can probably achieve only part of the huge, transformative changes required to limit the production and consumption of food to planetary limits, but a central issue is how to do this. Part of the answer lies in a change in food consumption and here we believe that we know where the answer lies: public actors ought to develop and implement a variety of policy instruments and systematically evaluate them – it is in this more large-scale implementation that the real need for research lies. The challenge of reducing the environmental impact of food consumption in Sweden is considerable, but there are good opportunities for nudging the trend towards more environment-friendly and health-friendly sustainable food consumption through the deployment of new policy instruments.


Elin Röös

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Jörgen Larsson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Kajsa Resare Sahlin

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Malin Jonell

The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics

Therese Lindahl

The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics

Erik André

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Sarah Säll

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Niklas Harring

University of Gothenburg

Martin Persson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Mistra sustainable consumtion - from niche to mainstream

Region Västra Götaland (MN201700188), 2018-01-01 -- 2019-12-31.

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra), 2018-01-01 -- 2019-12-31.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Environmental Management

Public Administration Studies

Areas of Advance

Health Engineering





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