How much can a koala bear?

I am deafened by the silence of Swedish consumers reaction to Systembolaget’s plan for new releases of wines in 2010 . Faced with criticism that the newly released wines sold out too quickly and disappointed customers the monopoly was faced with two choices:

a) new releases are obviously popular so more of each should be ordered (ie. consumers want variety)


b) reduce the number of new releases and order more of those (ie. consumers want variety but we will give them quantity)

The monopoly said their employees could not cope with too many releases (cue violins…) so putting the interests of their consumers behind those of the employees, option B won out.

To quote Australian comedian Austentaysious “How much can a koala bear?”.

Swedish bears obviously can deal with a lot of pushing around by the monopoly. The rough end of the stick is that small producers who used these new launches as a way to get their products into Sweden could supply smaller quantities without disrupting their export market strategy. By increasing the volume required quailty smaller producers will not want to put all their eggs in one basket and be squeezed out and more sales opportunities will be given to the big producers – of which we do not need more of here anyway.

Alcohol importers, already struggling and closing down due to the monopoly’s resistance to increase prices to offset the weak Kronor will now have to fight over fewer product listings.

Where do wine consumers fit into this you may well ask? Obviously they were not a consideration in making this decision.

We now have over 50.000 members in our wine clubs, obviously consumers want choice and not just of where they buy their wine but what they buy and are tired of the bland monopoly diet of bag in box (60% of the wine sold by Systemet) and mass produced wines that have the character and complexity of a bottle of Coke.



One response to “How much can a koala bear?

  1. I hear you, yet…

    As a relatively new resident of Sweden (5 years now) I, too, have had problems adjusting to the Swedish mentality (read: conservatism). Look at what the public opinion says about the end of Apotekets monopoly. Most lay men say they will keep shopping only at the governement owned chemists’ despite the new entrepeneurs in the branch (you never know, they might be from the Devil! 😉 And heaven forbid if we should change our currency to the Euro!!!

    When it comes to wine, my first shock after I moved here was the fact that Systemet organises it’s wines according to price!?!? So when I’m after a nice drop of red from Oz, I have to keep running between several shelves (well, not THAT many, I steer away from the below 75 kr shelves) just to get a glimpse of what they have to offer!

    I don’t know if I’ve become just cynical or what but it feels like “all change is bad” in this country. Every change requires endless contemplating and debating ad infinitum. Discussion is good but not if it stops or replaces action…

    The problem, as I see it, is not the system (Systemet, Apoteket, Svenska spel, etc) but the people. They are quite happy having everything the same way it has always been. Conservatism, mate, conservatism…

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