Expert opinion

Going sustainable requires Swedish meat balls

I guess everyone knows the Swedish meat balls at the IKEA restaurant and the frozen salmon parts in the IKEA food stores. But did you know that the company’s focus on food and feed is growing?

The furniture giant likes food as well and will therefore be putting more focus on their food stores and restaurants in the coming years. I met Christoph Mathiesen, Sustainability Developer at IKEA Food at the recent Global Feed and Food Congress (GFFC) in Bangkok last March. I was having lunch at the same table and was triggered by the idea why a company such as IKEA is attending a feed conference.

Photo: Niklas Carlsson
Photo: Niklas Carlsson

Mr Mathiesen told me that the company wants to be a responsible business and is sourcing critical commodities such as coffee, tea and cocoa or certain raw materials such as fish and seafood in a responsible way. And the focus on sustainable sourcing also entails animal feed. IKEA has chosen to look for solutions to how we can make the feed more sustainable and less dependent on material input from wild caught fish and feed crops like soy and palm oil that may be associated with deforestation and natural habitat loss. To put these thoughts into action, IKEA recently announced its active participation in the FEED-X programme, a WWF founded corporate accelerator which helps organisations adopt sustainable innovations in their supply chains.

At the same conference I met Lesley Mitchell from the Feed Compass Project. She was at the conference to build the bridge between corporate companies that want to include animal feed in their sustainability programmes. Lesley and her team are building a platform that looks through the lens of all the costs and impacts of animal feed – looking at ways to bring together major actors in the feed industry and to create a pre-competitive environment for businesses to take steps forward in making feed more sustainable.

It is very interesting to see what is happening within the sustainability plans that large companies have. It goes beyond putting led lights in the office and reduce waste. Big firms like IKEA look at the source of food production, the animal feed ingredients and they have the balls to take action on making the world better. Swedish balls that is!