Malmö’s journey to more climate friendly meals

The city of Malmö purchases about 8,500 tons of food every year (worth €24 million), serving 65,000 lunches a day. Food is prepared and served in pre-schools, schools and elderly care homes, free of charge.

Thanks to extensive teamwork, dedicated co-workers and clear and ambitious goals, the City of Malmö leads in Sweden in providing organic and climate friendly meals.

Malmö’s Policy for Sustainable Development and Food was approved by the city council in 2010. The main aims of the policy included serving healthy, high-quality food that is prepared by knowledgeable and competent staff and procuring food in a sustainable and climate friendly way. The policy had two ambitious environmental goals: First, all food served in Malmö should be organic by 2020; second, greenhouse gas emissions relating to food procurement should be reduced by 40 % by 2020 (from the 2002 level). The City of Malmö recognizes the ambition of these goals, but is committed to setting a high bar for other cities to follow on from.

Greenhouse gas emissions from food procurement measured in kilograms of CO2e produced per kg of food purchased.

Credit: City of Malmö

Today over 70 % of the meals it serves up are organic. The national goal for public kitchens is 60 % organic food by 2030, the current national level is approximately 40 %, demonstrating just how far ahead Malmö lies of the average. The city has also reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 % to a level of 1.49 kg CO2 e/kg, per kilogram of purchased food. This makes Malmö the best municipality in Sweden when it comes to serving organic, climate smart food.

How did Malmö achieve such success?

The city has used education and training as important tools to communicate the interconnection between food and climate and to reduce food’s impact on the climate. It’s also held training courses for employees at all levels, on subjects such as sustainable food, food in education, climate change, and nutrition as well as practical cookery courses.

Working together with the different departments within the city has been key to its success. Including all departments has helped ensure that the reasoning behind the goals is understood and that there is less resistance to change. The City of Malmö has not just changed how food is served up, but also what’s served up. In schools, meat is on the menu once or twice a week, fish once or twice weekly and vegetarian meals at least twice a week, in accordance with the nutritional recommendations of the Swedish Food Agency.

Malmo is also cooperating with actors outside of the city. Its close relationship with suppliers has helped the city reach food and climate goals by sourcing high-quality, plant-based options, as well as improving the variety of organic produce on offer.

Most goals have been partly reached, but there are still challenges to overcome. Food waste reduction needs to be more drastic; cooperation with schools can be strengthened; acceptance rates of plant-based meals have to pick up. The City of Malmö is committed to working towards a sustainable Malmö with healthy, climate friendly food served in our pre-schools, schools and care homes.


Sweden’s school meals have to be nutritionally balanced by law. All children aged 7-16, eat one meal, a school lunch, Monday to Friday. In addition, municipalities provide a warm lunch, breakfast and snacks at all pre-schools.


Helen Nilsson, project leader, Environmental Dept, tel + 46 (0)40-34 20 80