Oil supply shock, food shortages, and potential starvation in Sweden?

In 2013 the Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (JTI) released a report about potential impacts on the country’s food supply from sudden oil import shocks. JTI looked at three different scenarios, where oil imports would be redistricted (-25%, -50%, -75%) for a period of 3-5 years. Not enough time to make a transition to some other fuel. 

In the worst case scenario, where 75% of oil imports disappear, the authors stated that the diesel price could increase to some SEK 160/litre, and we would likely experience widespread starvation! Food supplies, in stores and warehouses, would only last for 10-12 days. Swedes don’t even know that the government has said that it’s up to the citizens themself to provide for their own food needs in a crisis situation. Most people seem to believe we still live in the 1970s when Sweden was a socialist country, not any more, not since the neoliberals came into office and started dismantling healthcare, defence, education etc. There is no emergency preparedness!

Without fossil fuels (oil and gas) we wouldn't be able to produce enough food in Sweden. This is partly due to our high food imports (50%)​, large-scale mechanisation of farms, loss of small-scale farmers and high costs (taxes) on farming. Most farm machinery runs on diesel while oil is used for heating and transportation. Areas like Stockholm and parts of Norrland are especially dependent on food imports. For example, the Stockholm region only produces some 5% of the milk consumed and less than 10% of the meat.

Today there are no food or fuel reserves, instead the entire country is totally dependent on “just-in-time” supplies. Again, in the worst case scenario, there will be no cooking oil, 75% less fruits and berries, 67-70% less grains, 40% less milk, and 64% less pigs, chickens and eggs. The only thing increasing is sheep and cow meat since a lot of land only will be used for grazing.

Based on SPBI data

Swedes can be kept over the starvation line if only 25% of oil imports disappear, but we will experience food shortages and risk of starvation if a larger oil shock occurs (50-75%). Looking at the export-import data some commentators have estimated that 90% of all oil imports will be gone by 2030. And this is probably a conservative estimate since it doesn’t account for sudden shocks due to an economic crisis, conflict, and so on. 

In a recent opinion poll (2013) two out of every three (63%) Swedes stated that they wouldn't be able to handle a shorter crisis. People in Gotland, Öland (islands) and Småland were most worried about a future crisis (49% think they will experience a crisis). Most people (58%) can only manage for about one week but it's likely that the respondents underestimate how much resources are actually required for everyday life. For example, water (3 litres/day) and heating during the winter.

Sweden's food supply is in any case extremely vulnerable to a shortage in oil imports, and Swedes are not prepared despite a lacking government. Our dear politicians have absolutely no plan on changing this, instead they claim “we need to stay competitive” totally missing the point that growth is over! (0.3% per capita GDP growth the last decade). The situation is not made better by half of all our oil imports now coming from Russia that we are engaging in trade wars with (sanctions etc). 


Out of the ashes into the fire


  1. Fortunate indeed that there is plenty of oil on a global basis for Sweden to purchase. If you can just keep the immigrants from flooding in and changing the character of the country though, right?

  2. Well, yes we can still buy oil and are doing so. We have always had plenty of immigrants, the problem is rather a government that doesn't understand that there is a limited ammount of resources and that you actually have to know some mathematics and not only apply "wishful thinking".

  3. Somebody doesn't know what they are talking about. Sweden is one of the most resourcefull countries in the world per capita. Unlimited amounts of clean water. unlimited amounts of timber and biomass.Huge amounts of sweet and saltwater fish. Sweden even produces it own supply of cooking oil, and was untill membership of EU selfsuppliyng in meat, deiry and crops. The report doesn't even mention that sweden is selfsuppliyng in potatoes which is the countrys main staple food. This is a smear campaign against sweden, presumably identical to the GOP campaign againt denmark that paul krugman is talking about in this artikel.:


    1. No it's not, I am Swedish and like my country, even voted for the Greens which are now in Parliament. I'm simply pointing out some risks that they are not willing to discuss. Not everything is a conspiracy.

  4. You can't tell if it's a conspiracy because of JTI's business policy of secrecy.
    What ever it is, it's not going to help other contries in their attempts to go green if sweden is catagorised as a failured "green" socialistic state that has no understanding of those future problems that most people see coming.
    Look at the coming election for president in the US, and see who this campaign against the swedish society's preparedness is benefitting.

  5. And by the way. why was my second comment taken away ??

  6. I probably know more about my own country than Paul Krugman, not everything is centered around the US. All countries have their flaws, not sure why you are getting so upset about this. It is just a fact of peak oil and diminishing economic returns.

  7. It's not easy to have an open debate about this controversial report if your critical comments are being censured away. Which they have been !!!

  8. I am the moderator and I decide what goes, if you don't like it you are free to leave

  9. It is your own credibility that's at stage. Your choice

  10. Non-pertinent, conspiracy or intolerant comments are not welcome

  11. Jag tycker ändå man borde ha lov att säga vad man tycker.

  12. men det har du också fått, du skriver att du tror allt är en konspirationsteori, vilket egentligen är helt icke-relevant för den här artikeln och som jag ändå låtit stå kvar

  13. Tack för att du låt artkeln stå kvar.
    Jag förstår att du inte tycker om min kritik, som jag framöver vill låta gå över utländska blogs

  14. Thanks for sharing !
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