The KRAV label: Why it matters to Swedish coffee businesses

Aidan Gant
March 28, 2022
krav label coffee

Ecolabelling is an increasingly relevant aspect of a coffee business’ packaging considerations. However, with so many standards and certification schemes to comply with, what makes KRAV stand out from the rest?

“Krav” is the Swedish word for requirement. True to its definition, the certification is obligatory for Swedish producers of organic food and drink, as well as foreign businesses wishing to access Swedish markets. Naturally, this includes specialty coffee, too.

Some roasters might begrudge the certification, but it’s a fact that five of the six nations that consume the most coffee per capita are Nordic. In fact, Swedish culture has its own special word for extended coffee breaks: fika.

Read on to find out more about the KRAV label and its requirements.

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What is the KRAV label?

The KRAV label is one of the most stringent ecolabelling standards in existence. It was founded as a nonprofit organisation in 1985, before being officially recognised as a control authority by the Swedish Board of Agriculture in 1993.

The certification serves to ensure that businesses meet high standards regarding organic produce, environmental protection, and ethical sourcing of raw materials.

The subsidiary of KRAV responsible for certification was sold to Dutch company Kiwa in 2009. This means businesses wishing to use the KRAV label need to register with KRAV directly.

Then it must apply to Kiwa or another third-party auditor to carry out an assessment of whether the business is confirming with the standards.

Perhaps the most prominent example of the use of the KRAV label in the coffee industry is with Swedish chain Wayne’s Coffee, for whom sustainability is a key business aim.

Other recognisable Swedish businesses that are KRAV-certified include roasters like Löfbergs, Arvid Nordquist, and Johan & Nyström.

krav label

Why is the KRAV label important for coffee businesses?

Consumers around the world are becoming increasingly ethically-conscious. This means they’re scrutinising what they spend their money on and the effects of their buying decisions.

According to a 2019 corporate social responsibility survey carried out by Aflac, 77% of consumers believe the companies they buy from should be committed to making the world a better place.

Other data suggests that 83% of Americans regularly choose organic produce. Of particular interest, especially when considering the merits of KRAV certification, Sweden has the fifth largest total organic food share of any country. Around 18.8% of all produce consumed there is organic.

Unquestionably then, organic certifications can help make you stand out in the eyes of consumers. However, beyond customer perceptions, what are the advantages of organic coffee?

Why go organic?

Contrary to popular belief, there is comparably little risk of harm to your health from residual pesticides used on non-organic coffee.

Unlike other produce where the finished product may come into direct contact with any chemical treatments used, coffee beans are protected by layers of mucilage, flesh, and skin.

Non-organic farmers, however, may be at significant risk from pesticide exposure, as are the environment around their farms.

In a study conducted in Manhuaçu city in Brazil, carcinogenic pesticides were found to have polluted both surface and groundwater as a byproduct of their agricultural use. It is suspected that, in addition to harming the local environment, this synthetic pesticide use was linked to a number of deaths in the region.

Organic farming practices are significantly less harmful to both farmers and consumers. Furthermore, they are increasingly favoured by end markets around the world.

Certification is the clearest way of communicating ethical considerations to potential customers. The advantage of certification lies in its power to communicate information about practices far back in the value chain.

Seemingly, a certification scheme should offer certainty that a given standard has been adhered to throughout. Unfortunately, some accreditations can be somewhat misleading, and are perhaps more worthy of support than others.

roasted coffee beans

What to consider before applying

There are plenty of other certifications available to guarantee organic produce.

What sets KRAV apart from a lot of its competitors is the degree of transparency and the scope of its requirements.

For example, the KRAV label is not just a guarantee of organic produce. There are also criteria that ensure a high degree of protection for workers in exporting countries. Additionally, there is strict control of energy use, and effective calculation of climate impact.

This differs from the scope of certifications like USDA Organic, which is a much more single-issue label.

While the FairTrade label encourages and supports farmers to grow in a more sustainable way, it does not include specific details about requirements for environmental protection in its own standards.

The cost of KRAV certification is split into two payments: an annual licence fee and a certification fee.

Roasters can expect the licence fee to be around $100 per year. However, certification through an organisation like Kiwa will vary greatly depending on the scale of operations.

The costs of auditing and licensing are not usually prohibitive for most businesses, and for Swedish roasters and coffee shops, they are likely to be easily offset by benefits in brand recognition.

If you’re still caught between two minds, note that an estimated 98% of Swedes recognise the KRAV label.

Outside of Sweden, however, it is unlikely that KRAV certification is a good fit for you. While it is a worthy certification, brand recognition is not high enough in areas outside of Sweden to make it worth choosing over a different ecolabel.

The KRAV label, and the growing popularity of ecolabelling in general, are strong indicators of the importance of environmental concerns to customers and your coffee partners.

At MTPak Coffee, we are committed to helping you achieve your sustainability goals and communicating your ethical considerations to customers. We offer a range of certified-sustainable coffee packaging options that include recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable options such as kraft paper, rice paper, PLA and LDPE.

Most of our biodegradable and compostable pouches meet European certification standard (EN 13432) issued by Din Certco, while our LDPE packaging is 100% recyclable. Our paper-based packaging carries the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo.

We can help you with everything from the packaging materials to the additional components and low-VOC water-based inks.

For more information on our sustainable coffee bags, contact our team.

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The KRAV label: Why it matters to Swedish coffee businesses

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