ICA is one of the biggest grocery retailers in Sweden. Every week, around 12 million people pass through their stores. Recognizing the important role they play in the everyday life of Swedes, ICA is intent on supporting the shift to a sustainable food system. A system that supports biodiversity, plant-based, and local foods. They launched ICA Växa, a new unit of the organization, to bring new products to market and connect with the startup community. Today, I speak with Jacqueline Engdahl, the Head of ICA Växa, to hear what exactly their up to. 

  • 6:00 ICA’s vision for the next 100 years
  • 8:50 Jacqueline’s story
  • 19:00 What ICA Växa does
  • 32:00 Different pathways of getting into ICA from pitching the category manager to the store owner or co-branding with ICA’s private label.

Links

How other Nordic grocery retailers are thinking about the future of food 

Sweden FoodTech on supporting the startup ecosystem 

Delås Farm on what it means to be a regenerative farmer

ICA’s 2020 Future Report that launched ICA Växa

Coop Crowdfunding on how they’ve enabled their customers to invest in early-stage food startups 

ICA’S 2021 Future Report on consumer demands 

How Sweden’s most popular vegan blog helps new products get on supermarket shelves

The largest online recipe base in Sweden is ICA’s 

How blockchain is being used in the food system

Set a food climate goal with this tool 

Read the Episode Transcript

Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech   2:43 

You work for ICA, which is one of the biggest supermarkets in Sweden. Can you tell us when and how ICA got started?

Jacqueline Engdahl, ICA Växa  2:58 

Yeah, sure. To go back to the origins, we have to go back 100 years when the Swedish society looked completely different. Hakon Swenson had the idea of joining different individual store owners and bringing efficiency across the grocery stores. So, we started about 100 years ago as a central purchasing order, which has since then both helped shape the Swedish society and build it with more services. Everything from distribution and communication to being a conglomerate with a bank, real estate, pharmacy…. We have over 1,200 stores in our network.

Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech   3:51  

And as you just mentioned, back then Sweden looked completely different. So, what was the structure? Why did it make sense to put together a centralized system?

Access the full episode transcript here.