A combination of a safe grandmother and a cocky Elon Musk – that is how Linus Källander describes KRAV, the association that works for the development of organic and sustainable foods in Sweden. As KRAV’s Chairman he manages the legacy of a movement, but also of his own father and grandfather. The commitment for sustainability is as strong now as when KRAV was founded.
It all started at an ordinary kitchen table, but quickly spread and today 98 percent of Sweden’s consumers know the label KRAV. The label has become a symbol of ecology, biodiversity and animal care, and is found on products as well in restaurants, caterings and municipality kitchens. No one at that kitchen table back in the 1980´s could have guessed that one day there would be 3 800 KRAV-labelled farmers and 1 200 KRAV-labelled restaurants.
KRAV for three generations
The kitchen table is still standing in Kalle Källander´s home, one of the founders of KRAV. Kalle Källander is the father of current Chairman of the Board Linus Källander, with grandfather Ragnar Källander as designer of the first KRAV-label.
‑ You could say KRAV is like a combination of a safe grandmother – who cherish other people and devote herself to make a comfortable life for others – and Elon Musk, a cocky type testing new grips, someone whom people trust that what he does is good for the world, someone who creates the prerequisites for doing good and living good, says Linus Källander.
A natural gateway to sustainability
The family is gathered at the farm in Sörmland (a landscape south of Stockholm), which is beautifully situated next to a small lake. The farm is obviously KRAV-certified, and here are cows, ewes, lambs and cats on the property. There has always been an interest for sustainable cropping at the farm, and this is also the place where Linus grew up.
‑ For me, the way we produce food has been a natural gateway to sustainability at large, says Linus Källander. Food is an important symbol for how we make the switch to a sustainable society. It is a complex system, but in the end, it is also about where the consumer puts their hand in the grocery store.
Linus’ father Kalle Källander agrees with him. Before KRAV existed, there were no common labelling or regulations. In Sweden, the term “organic” had not yet made its entry, instead the term “alternative cropping” was used. But as the demand for organic food grew, a need for an independent certification that could ensure that a certain system was followed emerged.
A single sheet of paper
Food retail needed to be able to offer organic products in a distinguishable way and the consumers needed a labelling they could trust. That was the reason why four culturing organizations together formed Alternativodlarnas förbund (The Alternative Farmers’ Union). The day after they started the certification KRAV on behalf of agricultural and consumer organizations. This was by the end of February 1985, and KRAV was born.
When KRAV was founded the rules were held on a single sheet of paper, with the basic rule not to use any chemical pesticides. The one who came up with the name KRAV was Kalle Källander.
Playing with letters on a train
– I sat on the train on my way home from that meeting where we had decided to establish a certification. I tried to make some abbreviations by playing with the Swedish words for “control” and “alternative” (i.e. “kontroll” and “alternativ”). Then I found out the name “Kontrollföreningen för alternativ odling” (The Control Association for Alternative Farming) and shortened it to KRAV, says Kalle Källander.
Since 2018, Linus Källander is the Chairman of the Board of KRAV, and he leads the strategic direction for the organization. KRAV has since the start had a wider perspective than “only” organic, and been working actively with climate issues, e.g. biodiversity. KRAV is based on organic principles and driving the development of sustainable foods.
– KRAV is flesh and blood. Through KRAV you can engage and make a change, as a farmer, consumer and member. KRAV also have answers to the demands within upcoming sustainability trends – when you buy KRAV you can get both locally produced and vegetarian food, but with an extra layer of sustainability. This has been our perspective from the start, says Linus Källander.