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Famring at Skansk Chilli

The heat is on for this organic chili sauce company looking beyond Sweden

Trade & export
Case study grow globally

Skånsk Chili has been spicing things up in Sweden since 2013. The family-owned organic food company has expertise in cultivating chili plants and turning them into sauces that leaves consumers burning for more. And when they wanted to reach markets beyond Sweden, Invest in Skåne was there to help.

CEO and founder Sakura Holmqvist describes Skånsk Chili as a straightforward and simple operation. “We grow organic chili and we use it to make a range of organic chili sauces,” she says. “Mild to superhot.” But running an organic food business is far from simple, especially when you’re handling the cultivation.

The company is certified by the EU for organic production and cultivation and maintains a cultivating facility outside of Landskrona. There, in just over 2,000 square meters of greenhouse space, hundreds to thousands of more than 30 different types of chili pepper plants grow each season without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilisers. Holmqvist and her team, which includes family, have to ensure the plants develop and sprout enough chili peppers for harvesting. They use predatory insects, like ladybugs and dragonfly larvae, to fend off pests and manure collected from nearby horse stables to nourish the crops. To stay climate friendly, growing is on a seasonal schedule with all harvesting done in the summer.

Certified organic for Europe

According to Holmqvist, Skånsk Chili currently generates about SEK 4 million in revenue and has five employees. Production and packaging of more than a dozen products are handled in its IP Foods certified facility in Landskrona. Skånsk Chili’s lines of hot sauces, salsas, and chili sauces (including Sweden’s first ever organic sriracha) have steadily grown in popularity within Sweden each year and the company is now aiming to expand sales to the wider region.

“We are focusing on Scandinavian countries and Germany,” Holmqvist explains.

But finding a way into stores outside of the country, even in other European and Nordic nations, is easier said than done.

Sakura Holmqvist at Skansk Chilli

“All our export customers are thanks to Invest in Skåne”, says Sakura Holmqvis, CEO and founder of Skånsk Chili

Skånsk Chili’s EU organic certification means its products have no problem being recognised as organic throughout the EU, but getting on shelves is a different story. That requires finding and forming partnerships and relationships with distributors and buyers in international markets, as well as navigating the ins and outs of export deals.

Luckily, Skånsk Chili had already begun a relationship with an organisation that could help.

“We joined the Invest in Skåne program for supporting small businesses: Grow International Southern Sweden,” Holmqvist says. “And we are now part of their Southern Sweden International program, which started in 2019.”

Skansk Chilli Products

 

How Invest in Skåne helped

Holmqvist fully credits the region’s official agency for trade and investment promotion as the essential factor for Skånsk Chili’s international sales. “All our export customers are thanks to Invest in Skåne,” she says.

The agency played a crucial role in Skånsk Chili getting into the Nordic Organic Food Fair, both in Malmö and London, which Holmqvist cites as the source for her buyers in Denmark and the UK.

She also acknowledges the support from specific Invest in Skåne team members, who connected her with an expert to give critical advice on how to ready Skånsk Chili’s products for the export market. “Later, I got help from Emma Brentegani, who found several leads, and one of them generated a new Hungarian buyer.”

Holmqvist estimates that 10% of Skånsk Chili’s current sales are exports. “We are selling to Norway, Denmark, Germany and Hungary,” she says.