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News - 03.01.12

Good opportunities for Argentine wine in Sweden

In December 2011, Wines of Argentina presented Sara Norell, who delivered a talk on Systembolaget, the monopoly for wine distribution in Sweden.

Wines of Argentina recently presented a talk entitled “Argentina as a Wine Supplier to Systembolaget” (Systembolaget is the first Swedish wine and spirits monopoly). The presentation, co-organized with Pro-Mendoza Foundation, was aimed at explaining the organization’s rationale, outlook on the future and sales system to local winemakers and wine professionals. The conference was delivered by Sara Norell, Sales Manager and representative for this state-owned Swedish organization.

The expert described Systembolaget, the way it works, its product diversity strategy, the sales and quality control processes used, and the corporate responsibility programs developed. She also provided sales statistics and expounded on the prospects of the market for Argentina.

After her presentation, Sara Norell spoke with Wines of Argentina:

What is Systembolaget and what is its mission?

We are a company and a monopoly in Sweden aimed at officially limiting the effects of alcohol on consumers. Our purpose is to promote responsible consumption so that people can enjoy drinking alcohol without excess and always preserving their health. Our mission is to help control the harmful effects of alcohol. We believe there will be fewer problems in relation with excessive alcohol consumption if alcohol sales are not profit-oriented. In addition to this, it is very important for Systembolaget to get to know what is happening in the global wine market and find ways to cooperate with international producers and players so that they can have better possibilities to supply wine to the Swedish market.

How do you go about achieving your mission?

We offer limited access to alcoholic drinks by restricting the number of stores and customer service hours and by applying regulations on sales. We don‘t seek to maximize profits or make additional sales. We seek to offer a balanced combination of responsibility and service, transparency and equality in our relation with clients and high efficiency. We aim at a society where everyone can enjoy alcoholic beverages in a healthy way, without harming themselves or others.

What is your business concept?

We aim to sell alcoholic drinks responsibly and at the same time offer a first-class service standard and share our knowledge on the issue of drinking and its health effects. Ours is a very special situation because we are part of the government. Our main objective is not to sell as much as possible but to make people aware that drinking responsibly can be enjoyable.

During your talk you described a social responsibility program that Systembolaget is developing together with the monopolies of neighboring countries in Northern Europe. What is it about?

It is a social responsibility program aimed at keeping close track of the supplier chain in order to ensure fair working conditions for people in the trade, and one of its most significant goals is to raise people’s awareness of environmental issues.

What is the current situation for Argentine wines in Sweden?

Sweden has a population of 9 million and the annual alcohol consumption per capita is 25 liters. Argentina presently ranks ninth among the countries supplying wine to the Swedish market. I see it has good potential and I think the style and characteristics of Argentine wines suit Northern Europeans very well. They are “hot” wines, appropriate for our food. We sell more reds than whites, since Swedish consumers prefer full-bodied red wines, such as Malbec and Cabernet, but I believe there is also great chance for Argentine white wines like Chardonnay and Torrontés.