The Ukrainian conflict, sanctions against Russia, and weather conditions have continued to drive up inflation, making life difficult for many Swedish families.
As food prices continue to soar, more and more people in Sweden, a Nordic country known for its well-developed welfare system, are seeking help for daily food. Since this spring, an increasing number of Swedes have found themselves struggling with sky-high food prices and seen no other option but to join charity schemes that offer free or highly discounted groceries.
"Most of the new members are single parents on unemployment benefits, pensioners, and jobless youth," the Swedish City Missions secretary Jonas Wihlstrand said, adding that memberships of the social supermarkets run by the mission have doubled since this spring.
The Swedish City Missions offer food schemes in ten cities across the country. In the capital Stockholm alone, about 5,500 families and individuals have registered as new members at the four social supermarkets in the city's suburbs so far this year.
Membership at such social supermarkets is free for those with an income under the subsistence level, and it entitles them to a discount of at least two-thirds of the regular retail prices. Members can buy discounted groceries for up to 300 Swedish crowns (about US$29) per week.
The Ukrainian conflict, Western sanctions against Russia, and extreme weather conditions have continued to drive up inflation, making life difficult for many Swedish families.
Curious | How much is the inflation and the energy prices a subject matter...there you're living? Here in Sweden they are big topics, if not the main topics with election day soon coming up.— Thérèse B. (@houseofthereseb) August 18, 2022
Inflation for Europe https://t.co/aJhZon1Gla pic.twitter.com/oL0awJ1pEk
Sweden's 12-month inflation rate reached 8 percent in July, following record-breaking figures for four consecutive months. Prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to soar in July, registering a staggering 13.5-percent increase compared to July 2021.
Johan Rindevall, manager of all four social supermarkets in Stockholm, said that most of the new members joined after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict when it became obvious that inflation was not only staggering but most likely also persistent. Lately, the number of members has grown at an unprecedented rate.
"The Swedish economy may have developed tremendously over the last three decades, but we have also seen the gap between those who are rich and those who are poor widen. I believe that Sweden is one of the countries in Europe where this inequality is increasing the most," Wihlstrand said.