Swedish alcohol intake hikes after EU entry

Swedish alcohol intake hikes after EU entry
Contemporary Swedes drink significantly more alcohol and eat more meat since the country joined the European Union in 1995, according to a new report by the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket).

“With regards to alcoholic drinks and meat, the liberalisation of imports and price developments have contributed to increased consumption,” the board explained in a statement.

One of the key points of negotiation during Sweden’s EU membership application process concerned the issue of the state-controlled alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget.

Sweden secured the right to retain the monopoly until 2004 after which time import restrictions were eased for private individuals. The board’s report notes that the easing of import restrictions has led to an increase in consumption.

The report shows that the consumption of alcoholic beverages increased by 56 percent from 1995 to 2009, primarily of high-alcohol beer and wine.

Meat consumption increased over the same period by 48 percent as a result of declining consumer prices.

The board’s statistics furthermore show that the consumption of bread, pastry, meat, rice, pasta, fruit and vegetables have also increased over the 15 year period of EU membership.

The same development has been seen for soft drinks, while the consumption of milk and butter has decreased.

The agriculture board however notes that there could be factors aside from EU membership which have affected the changes in Swedish consumption habits.

“Various factors affect our consumption patterns. Most likely, the increased awareness of the importance of diet to health and global trends have affected the consumer more than EU membership,” said Olof Sköld, who wrote the report for the board, in a statement.

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