In 2014, the beverage producer Saturnus was presented with an urgent challenge. They had an opportunity to sell their products in China through their long-term customer IKEA, and quickly needed to find an importer with experience of selling Swedish products.

Saturnus explained the situation to Business Sweden, and in the span of two months an importer was identified. The collaboration marks the beginning of a new, exciting business venture with the potential for benefitting from additional revenue streams in the region. 

Saturnus is a family-owned Swedish business with solid experience in producing high-quality drinks such as mulled wine, flavoured spirits, alcohol-free wine, juice, and drink mixers.

Until recently, Saturnus’ international experience focused on the neighbouring countries. IKEA has been a long-term global customer, but the company’s export sales came primarily from the rest of Scandinavia and Germany.

Our export adviser at Business Sweden understood our need directly. Edward Liepe, CEO

The need for a Chinese importer to sell Saturnus’ Skärgårdssnapsar, a set of flavoured spirits, arose in 2014. At the time, Saturnus attended Business Sweden’s business development program Steps to Export (now known as Online Steps to Export). Putting the program on hold, they asked Business Sweden for support to find a Chinese importer with Swedish product experience.

A relatively small company like Saturnus can hardly expect to have broad market knowledge about every country and industry. Therefore, it is vital to get reliable advice from an external company with relevant experience. “Our export adviser at Business Sweden understood our need directly, and it took only two months to find a new importer,” says Edward Liepe, CEO at Saturnus.


Sending large deliveries to China is not without risk, however, and therefore a collaboration was set up between Saturnus and the Swedish Export Credit Agency (EKN). “If the customer disappears, it would be difficult for us to claim receivables, but EKN takes a large part of the risk,” Edward explains. Through EKN, Saturnus is guaranteed credit for deliveries.

Saturnus now plans to distribute more products in China, so it appears that this exciting business venture is only in the beginning stages. The Chinese importer has also started to sell Saturnus’ products in Mongolia, which is a positive side effect from the partnership.



To quickly find a Chinese importer experienced in selling Swedish products.


Business Sweden helped to find a suitable importer in just two months. To lower risk, a collaboration between Saturnus and the Swedish Export Credit Agency (EKN) was also mediated.


Saturnus has a continuous delivery flow to IKEA’s Chinese stores, with shipments arriving every two to three months.


Saturnus has produced high-quality alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks since 1893. Owned by the Liepe family since 1920, it is Malmö’s oldest privately-held company. Saturnus is Sweden’s largest producer of mulled wine, and currently employs around 30 people.


Saturnus plans to extend their product offer in China, and the Chinese importer has begun selling its products in Mongolia.