Food safety is our pride
Food safety is one of the most important criteria for international decision makers when choosing food and agricultural suppliers. It is also one of the key strongholds in Danish food and agricultural production, and one we need to maintain and communicate. However, the survey reveals that international decision makers in the four selected markets do not see Denmark as a frontrunner when it comes to food safety, indicating massive untapped potential.
The world needs and requires high food safety. At least, this is the case if you ask international decision makers in four of Denmark’s most relevant and important export markets – the US, the UK, Germany and China. The survey shows that 65% of the international decision makers highlight food safety when asked what is very important or decisive when choosing international suppliers. This is good news, given the Danish expertise in precisely this matter, says Esben Egede Rasmussen, Director at the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.
It is generally agreed on that the Danish food and agricultural sector is first in class when it comes to food safety. The cooperation between state, industry and research has resulted in very high standards for food safety in Denmark
WE HAVE AN UNTAPPED POTENTIAL
Although food quality and safety are key competences in Denmark, the survey indicates fierce competition for the attention of international decision makers. This could point to an untapped potential in better communicating our stronghold within food safety. “Danish food companies cannot take for granted that the international markets know of our excellence in food quality and safety. We must show it by continuously telling understandable and documented stories about our strongholds.
For instance, stories about our responsible industry and our control system,” says Esben Egede Rasmussen before elaborating on the importance of focusing on the issues that appeal to consumers in each specific market.“I think it is very important that Danish food and agriculture companies understand the consumers with whom they wish to engage. What is important to them when it comes to food quality and safety? Maybe it is not the Danish salmonella plan of action or other large-scale structural initiatives you need to focus on. Maybe it is something ‘closer to home’ for the local consumer.”
DEFEAT THE HOME BIAS
The survey indicates that food safety is especially important to German decision makers who associate food safety more with their own food products and solutions than with those of Denmark, as illustrated in the figure above. This makes them more likely to choose a national supplier.
It is natural to think that the food in one’s own country is the best – no matter the objective facts. This is a hurdle that any food and agricultural company needs to overcome when exporting. There will always be a home bias to defeat, and that poses a challenge to one’s communication. But it can be done. You have to appeal to the specific market
According to the survey, Denmark has overcome the national bias when it comes to the Chinese market. The decision makers in China find food safety very important and they are more likely to have high confidence in Danish products than their own. “Since we got into China with Danish pork ten years ago, both the Danish public authority and the Danish food and agriculture companies have put a lot of effort and energy into that market. We have had a clear strategy for demonstrating and communicating our excellent food safety and that has paid off. But it is not given that we will maintain our strong position in China. We have to keep demonstrating and documenting our high food safety standards,” says Esben Egede Rasmussen.
China is, in this regard, a Danish success story, carrying an important inspirational message: Food safety is an important position of strength that functions to open up doors around the world. It is, therefore, important to continue to develop and communicate this area in order to continue our export of knowledge, products and solutions to international stakeholders.