Over the last decade, bioeconomy policies, guided by integrated bioeconomy strategies, have developed. This paper presents a systematic and comparative analysis of official bioeconomy strategies of the EU, Germany, OECD, Sweden and the USA with regard to their context, visions and guiding implementation principles. In an additional step, the relationship between these strategies and important scientific and societal debates around bioeconomy is assessed. In conclusion, five major stumbling blocks for the further development of the bioeconomy are worked out. First, there is the risk of disappointment because far-reaching promises of the strategies are difficult to achieve. Second, the bioeconomy is not the only way to a low carbon economy so alternatives could impede the desired development. Third, persistent conflicts between the different uses of biomass for food, material and energy production could lead to unstable policy support with short-term shifts. Fourth, a broader success of new bioeconomy value chains could trigger new societal conflicts over bioeconomy if efficiency gains, cascading use, residue use and sustainability certification are not sufficient to ensure a sustainable supply of biomass. ... mehrFifth, the acceptance of bioeconomy could be compromised if bioeconomy policies continue to ignore the on-going societal debates on agriculture and food.