Breakfast sandwiches, pasta dishes or Danish pastries. Wheat is used in many of the food products that are eaten in Sweden almost every day. Wheat grains are recognised by their pale brown colour and plump shape without shoots.
Wheat is the cereal we cultivate most in the world, including in Sweden. Around 15 percent of Swedish farmland is used to grow wheat today. Wheat grains are then milled into flour that is used as an ingredient for products such as delicious pastries, crispy buns and home made pancakes. Flour contains gluten, a protein that creates networks and helps hold the dough together and gives the bread volume.
A brief history
The cultivation of wheat began around 12,000 years ago in the Middle East in the area that was known as the fertile crescent, and which is now very largely part of Iraq. It is also the cereal that has undergone the most change.
The first types of wheat that began being cultivated were einkorn (single grain) wheat and Emmer wheat, that emerged via a spontaneous crossing of single grain wheat and a wild grass. Single grain is still cultivated in its area of origin, in what is now south east Turkey.
Not much wheat was cultivated in the Nordic region initially, as this required a specific type of soil and plant nutrition. The first written sources on the extent of wheat cultivation in Sweden date from the 16th Century and concerned wheat harvests that made up less than one percent of the total grain harvest.
In addition to producing fine bread, cakes and pastries, white flour also offers several health benefits, especially whole grain wheat. Eating whole grain gives us nutrients and other wholesome benefits from all parts of the grain.
Studies show that whole grain products, combined with a healthy lifestyle in general, can reduce the risk of heart diseases. Whole grain is also included in the Swedish Keyhole Symbol that specifies requirements for a certain whole grain content in food products.
What does the Keyholw mean?
For a food to be labelled with the Keyhole Symbol, it must satisfy certain rules. These rules concern salt, sugar, dietary fibre, whole grain and types of fat. As different food groups contain different types of nutrition and in different amounts, the requirements differ for each group – breakfast flakes are compared with breakfast flakes and sausages with sausages.
Source: Swedish National Food Agency
Whole grain wheat
Spring and winter wheat
As the same indicates, spring wheat is sown in spring. This wheat has a higher protein content and therefore costs a bit more. Winter wheat is sown in the autumn to germinate and develop into young plants that remain in the vegetative phase during the winter and resume growth in early spring. This wheat has a slightly lower protein content.
Winter wheat is the most common type in Sweden with an average harvest of 2.2 million tons per year. This makes up around 41 percent of the total grain harvest in Sweden (based on the average for winter wheat and the total harvest over the last five years in Sweden). In contrast, spring wheat only accounts for 7 percent.
Gotland durum pasta
After 16 years of research and development, Gotland farmers have finally succeeded in cultivating durum wheat on their Baltic island. The result? A durum pasta with a unique taste, structure and character.
Thanks to the many hours of sunshine on Gotland, the wheat, which is of the Rosadur variety, thrives in the lime-rich soil, resulting in high-quality harvests. Pasta is usually made from durum wheat grown in warm regions around the Mediterranean. Such large scale cultivation on Gotland is therefore unique.
Our Climate & Nature concept
The innovative work being done by Lantmännen has also resulted in our Climate & Nature cultivation concept - with up to 20 percent less climate impact and that gives greater consideration to the environment and nature.
Our Climate & Nature concept was launched in 2015 and is now used in grain cultivation around Sweden. The results - Friendlier Wheat and Friendlier Rye - are available to buy in your food store.