Swedish food campaign flops with job losses

A campaign to knock France off its perch and establish Sweden as the haute cuisine leaders of the world has left a bitter taste in the mouth with more than 10,000 agriculture jobs lost since it was launched.

Swedish food campaign flops with job losses
Eskil Erlandsson pictured at a 'Matlandet Sverige' event in 2009. Photo: Bertil Ericson / TT

Back in 2008 the campaign was launched to much fanfare by then agriculture minister Eskil Erlandsson who said that 'Matlandet Sverige' was "going to put Sweden on the world map as a country of good food." 

Erlandsson, who is now the minister for rural affairs, also claimed the scheme would generate 20,000 jobs.

However, five years later the campaign has failed to set tongues wagging with more than 10,000 agriculture jobs lost in that period. The project has already eaten up 1.2 billion kronor ($190 million) in costs but has been defended by Erlandsson.

"With the focus on matlandet (culinary nation) we have provided opportunities for companies to develop in rural parts of the country and that is something I will continue to focus on," he told Aftonbladet.

He added; "It's true that a number of jobs in agriculture have been reduced but unfortunately that is part of a structural transformation that has been going on for a long time across all of Europe."

The campaign, which had the internal working title of 'Eskil eats,' had big ambitions when it hit the headlines five years ago. It came in for harsh criticism in a recent report ordered by the government on the effectiveness of the project.

Among the findings was the suggestion that it was "unclear" how the 20,000 new jobs in the food sector were going to be created.

Figures released by the Swedish board of agriculture revealed that 10,000 agriculture jobs were lost between 2007 – 2010.

Political opponents have been quick to pick on the bones of the failed food campaign with Kew Nordqvist of the Swedish Green Party saying; "Culinary Sweden is so loose in what it outlines. What is it about in reality?" he told Aftonbladet.

Erlandsson deflected the criticism and said that 8,500 new jobs in the food sector have been created since the campaign was launched. 

The Local/pr

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Swedish MP resigns over groping allegations

Eskil Erlandsson, an MP for the Centre Party and a former minister for rural affairs, resigned from parliament on Thursday after being accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Swedish MP resigns over groping allegations
Four female MPs have accused Erlandsson of unwelcome physical advances, saying he touched them without their consent.
Upon the revelations, the Centre Party immediately asked Erlandsson to resign. 
“There has been very inappropriate behaviour toward a number of women that is completely unacceptable,” Centre Party spokesman Anders Jonsson told TT. 
Four women told Jonsson that Erlandsson touched them inappropriately during lunch and dinner meetings. All four of the women are MPs for the Moderate party, including Cecilie Tenfjord-Toftby, who spoke publicly about her encounter with Erlandsson. 
She told P4 Sjuhärad that Erlandsson put a hand on her thigh during a lunch at the parliament building. She said the other women’s stories are nearly identical. 
“This is not okay. You can’t behave in this way,” Tenfjord-Toftby told P4 Sjuhärad. “I was mostly pissed off, but also offended and disappointed that a colleague would do that.”
Tenfjord-Toftby said she told her party leadership about the incident, which sparked others to say they had been exposed to something similar from Erlandsson. 
Jonsson said that after he heard the women’s story, he asked Erlandsson to step down. 
“No one should be subjected to this. This was something that crossed the line, so there was no doubt that I should urge him to resign,” he said. 
Erlandsson has declined to comment. 
Jonsson said that the Centre Party would not report the matter to the police and that any additional steps should be the decision of the women affected. 
Erlandsson has been a Member of Parliament since 1994 and was appointed Minister of Agriculture after the 2006 election. In January 2011, the new Rural Ministry was established and he was instead named the minister of rural affairs.