Social supermarkets help struggling families in Sweden

Despite Sweden’s reputation as a wealthy and prosperous country, it is facing a growing poverty problem due to rising food and energy prices. 

One solution to this issue is the emergence of social supermarkets, such as Matmissionen or Food Mission, which offers members the chance to purchase food at greatly reduced prices. 

Matmissionen has rapidly expanded since January, more than doubling its customer base. The organisation operates eight stores across the country, selling food donated by producers and retailers that would otherwise go to waste, usually due to cosmetic blemishes, damaged packaging or a short sell-by date. 

The aim of Matmissionen is to limit food waste, train new workers and provide low-cost food to those in need. 

Membership is open to those with a monthly income of less than 11,200 kronor (roughly R18 000), and prices for members are rock-bottom. This type of social supermarket is becoming increasingly necessary in Sweden, as the country’s welfare system has been steadily cut back in recent years, leaving more and more people vulnerable to inflation that has averaged about 8% this autumn. Rising electricity bills have also contributed to the issue, with some household bills doubling in recent months. 

In practice, 90-95% of purchases are made by members, who can buy up to 300 kronor (roughly R500) of food a week at low members-only prices. Social supermarkets like Matmissionen are proving to be a vital lifeline for those struggling to make ends meet, highlighting that poverty is a problem that needs to be addressed even in wealthy countries like Sweden.

Photo courtesy of Matsmissionen.