Swedish Moderate MP Hans Wallmark has visited small scale producers of beer and wine in southern Sweden, and his recommendations on his blog are clear. It should be possible to tweak the system to open for direct sales of alcohol from producers to consumers.
The absurdities of the system are illustrated by the story of the sparkling wine producer Carl-Otto Ottergren. (It’s the wine that’s sparkling, I don’t know about Carl-Otto). When he wants to have a tasting of the champagne with his own name on the label, he calls Systembolaget in Ystad, telling them he wants to buy 20 bottles of Carl-Otto. Then a paper slides out of his fax machine with an order of 20 bottles of Carl-Otto. He packs the boxes into his car, drives to Ystad and delivers them. Then he walks around the building, lines up in front of the cashier and tells them he is Carl-Otto who’s there to get the wines called Carl-Ottos. He gets out and then home with the same boxes. The difference is that his profits have been cut by half through the fees charged by Systembolaget.
The chair of the Norwegian Liberal Party shares his views. Trine Skei Grande has visited a cider producer in Western Norway, where we find most of the orchards of the country. Here the rules are slightly more liberal than in Sweden. The cider maker does not have to drive to the nearest town and back again before having a tasting, but it is still impossible to buy a bottle or two to take home from your visit.
The governments of both countries are scratching their heads. There are supporters of threse proposals in many politcal camps, but at the same time there are worries that this will mean the beginning of the end for the government retail monopolies.