SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

Södertälje Science Park emerged as a consequence of huge medical producer Astra Zeneca in 2012 choosing to phase out its vast research operations based in Södertälje. To not lose its well-educated workforce and to maintain a positive growth speed in the area, the local governance wanted to promote the science park by investing in new business categories. Södertälje Municipality is mostly known for having a large first and second-generation immigrant population and for its industrial legacy. However, the area also has a tradition of ecological farming, foodstuff production and foodstuff research spanning much of the 20th century. One of the municipality’s objectives was therefore to add another brand to the area, i.e. sustainable food production. Already in 2001 Södertälje municipality had taken a political decision to use public meals as an instrument for sustainable development, which later led to a cooperation with the research project BERAS (Baltic Ecological Recycling Agriculture and Societies). Södertälje Municipality decided to initiate the Matlust project as a part of the Södertälje Science Park.

Good practices & solutions

Matlust has engaged numerous local SMEs in accelerating and innovating their production using locally grown foods. One of them began to re-cultivate the more or less forgotten gråärtor (“grey peas”), similar to chic peas, which were subsequently used for making falafel. Hen meat, primarily used for animal fodder but well suited for human meals, was also introduced in a pita roll named Södertäljerullen (the “Södertälje Roll”) developed by famous chef Mattias Dahlgren of Grand Hôtel.

On the social level, Matlust has to a limited extent managed to introduce unemployed local residents to their food SMEs and also giving them job opportunities of making rolls at promotive events. Different kinds of local SMEs usually consist of either mainly immigrants or mainly swedes, but through Matlust, they have been given the opportunity of meeting one another more frequently than before. The independently running Södertälje project Map 2020 provided the connection of unemployment assistance to Matlust.

LEAN is being used through KTH Leancenter as a tool for developing the operations of participating SMEs. LEAN is a re-structuring of operational procedures that considers the individual’s knowledge and values when creating new workflows and a more efficient work environment.

The degree of making individual residents and citizens co-creative participants seems to have been limited. The food is being tested in school kitchens, kindergartens and care centers using enquiries for participants. Rather, each SME functions as a testbed with a certain level of creative freedom to explore meals and foodstuff, with researchers analysing these testbeds. Researchers have also been interviewing roughly 30 of the participating SMEs and produced a report in 2018.

Outcome & opportunities

Matlust’s vision for future prospects is to establish Södertälje as a regional node of knowledge in food production and sustainability, engaging actors from all societal sectors. Using the results of Matlust and the public meal as a starting point, they hope to be perceived as a regional and maybe nation-wide good example of sustainable production. A stated possible next step is to expand into the whole Mälardalen Region.

Scaling up innovative ways of more resource efficient and socio-ecologically sustainable food production may have considerable lasting impact on climatic effect. Since most public meals are provided to children, it creates the possibility of educating future generations on how to produce in new, sustainable ways.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The amount of available resources makes all the difference. Matlust has had broad political support and prospects of funding on local, regional, national and even EU levels, which contributes to explain their wide and largely successful impact. In addition, local legacies and inherited knowledge has contributed heavily. This means that they have had an ample selection of experts on the issues in question, such as consultants. Matlust consider consultants a valuable asset, since they themselves have not had all the expert knowledge on food production, especially regarding the
process level. A healthy balance between employees and hired experts is advised. As a project lasting 5 years, the aspect of future funding and continued efforts is a pressing matter. The ownership is also a difficult question. It is not self-evident that Södertälje Municipality would be the most relevant partner steering the process of establishing the area as a node for sustainable food innovation. If the local governance would still be the major leading (and funding) part, the question of what’s in it for the taxpayers demands concrete response.

Engaged partners & stakeholder groups

Matlust: Södertälje Municipality, local SMEs, KTH, Saltå kvarn, Acturum Biovation, Södertälje Science Park, Destination Södertälje, chefs.

Further reading


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Project: Stockholm Co-creation