Ikea Food

Packaging puts Swedish food on the world’s (self-assembled) dinner tables


Not only is IKEA the world’s largest furniture retailer, with around 350 stores in 43 countries, it is also Sweden’s largest exporter of meat: there’s an appetite for IKEA’s meatballs everywhere you go. IKEA’s in-store cafés have been around since the 1960s but, for almost as long, the retailer has sold a selection of Swedish specialities in small “food markets” positioned after the main checkouts


IKEA wished to consolidate its café and food market operations by bringing them under a single, Swedish-flavoured brand – IKEA Food – and introducing a wide range of own-label products offering good value, traditional Swedish fare. SDL had already worked with IKEA for several years by 2005, developing a successful packaging system for all 8000 non-furniture IKEA products. Now the retailer asked us to do the same for its food range.


The challenge was to convey visually what couldn’t be conveyed verbally. IKEA insisted that each product be labelled only with its name, in Swedish – Gräddsås, Lingonsylt, Skarpsill and so on – even in its 42 out of 43 non-Swedish-speaking markets. We devised three strategies for the food packaging, based on: transparency wherever possible, with windows or glass jars showing off products such as sauces, sweets and fruit; iconic illustrations and silhouettes on canned food, for instance; and photography, where more visual information is required.


Removing every last scrap of unnecessary information and decoration, we were able to bring some typically IKEA-like simplicity, clarity, consistency and a sprinkling of wit to the growing IKEA Food range. Our can for its own-brand sprats won gold at the Cannes Design Lions Awards in 2012, and SDL has now designed packaging for more than 100 IKEA Food products. The IKEA Food range is now available around the world.