Case Study

Remmarlöv Gårdsbryggeri Remmarlöv, Sweden

SME Name
Remmarlöv Gårdsbryggeri
SME Size
Micro (1-9)
Sector
Beverage production
Industry
Food & Beverage
Developed by Ulrike Krantz

Lesson

This is a case study of a farm-based SME producing sustainable local craft beer. In contrast to other small craft breweries that invest a lot of resources to follow fluctuating beer trends, this SME choses to make use of their advantage of being located on a farm and make sustainability their unique selling proposition. They develop sustainable beer products and make investments in waste and emission reduction. 

Background

The farm craft brewery in Remmarlöv, in the region of Scania in Sweden, was founded in 2014 by a farmer of the 5th generation and his wife. What started as a hobby has grown to a successful business with a yearly production of 250 000 litres and over 80 different products, of which several have won awards. The brewery is eco-certified and about 30% of their products are organic. 

In Sweden, the alcoholic beverage sector is steered by the federal liquor monopoly (Systembolaget) which is the main sales channel for craft breweries and steers beer product development through tenders. Remmarlöv´s other sales channel is direct sales to restaurants. On-site farm sales are not permitted in Sweden, but a change of law is being investigated by the Swedish government.

Sustainability Story

Influenced by the owner´s farmer mentality (e.g. frugality, reusing resources) and a feeling of responsibility for the surrounding nature, sustainability has been unconsciously integrated in the company from the beginning. Exchanging with other craft breweries made Remmarlöv realise that their operations and ways of handling waste were more sustainable compared to craft breweries in urban areas. This led to a sharpened sustainability profile which Remmarlöv uses as a unique selling proposition. Their sustainability practices stretch over the entire value chain: from sourcing local malt and producing their own solar and wind energy, recovering heat through heat exchangers, an onsite wastewater treatment plant that reuses wastewater on the farm fields, feeding spent grains to the cattle on the neighbouring farms, the investment in the canning line to offer beer in lightweight cans, innovating products that contain more resilient heritage barley, and educating customers by sustainability information on the can labels. 

Remmarlöv intentionally chose to invest resources in long-term and often invisible sustainability work, instead of following the latest, fluctuating beer trends as many craft breweries do. Nevertheless, in a micro-sized company economic aspects are important for survival, and Remmarlöv therefore has to follow certain beer trends despite being unsustainable (e.g. hoppy IPAs requiring a lot of imported hops from the U.S.). Remmarlöv believes in a long-term change or beer trend towards a more sustainable beers and tries to balance these trade-offs.

Remmarlöv Gårdsbryggeri Practices

Local, low-waste and low-carbon production
The micro-brewery innovates beer products with sustainable ingredients (e.g. more resilient ancient malt variety or a less water-intensive hops variety), and educate the customers about product sustainability through information on beer labels. They source malt locally, and organic ingredients as much as possible. Production is powered by on-site wind and solar energy production and spent grains (draft) are fed to cattle in the local community. Wastewater is treated on-site and reused on the fields of the farm. The beer production is optimized to reduce water, energy and beer loss (heat exchanger, centrifuge)

Pathway Map

Pathway maps represent the sequence businesses followed to implement successful sustainability practices and identify emerging ones within firms. The pathways also reveal the diversity of actors that begin to form sustainability enabling ecosystems for businesses to adopt, deploy or test sustainability practices.
Local, Low-Waste and Low-Carbon Production
View the Pathway Map

Enabling Factors for Practices

Internal to the organizationExternal to the organization
Farmer´s mentality that makes sustainability a priority The federal liquor monopoly (Systembolaget) pushed the production of organic craft beer for a while, is now out after beers with local ingredients and has started a sustainability labelling to highlight sustainable products on the shelves.
Location in the countryside and enough space that enables certain sustainability practices (on-site wastewater, re-use of wastewater and spent grains…) Good relations to surrounding farmers
Communication skills to raise customer awareness (with the limited communication options that are available in the restricted alcoholic beverage sector in Sweden) Capacity building event on sustainable brewing principles organized by Lund University and Scania´s alcoholic beverage producers´ association triggered Remmarlöv to sharpen their sustainability profile and use this as a unique selling proposition.
Organic certification allows to enter Systembolaget´s tendering processes for organic beer and opens up new market segments, e.g. restaurants that only buy organic beer.

Arresting Factors for Practices

Internal to the organizationExternal to the organization
Restricted time to work on sustainability aspectsOrganic malt varieties are very limited which restricts product development of 100% organic beer.
Organic hops are hard to obtain due to low supply on the market and high demand from large breweries.
A small-scale craft brewery needs to follow beer trends, even if unsustainable (hoppy beer styles, bottled beer instead of more light-weight canned beer)

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