Healthy, natural and organic food make Denmark unique
Denmark has a unique branding position by being a frontrunner on natural and organic food that fits a healthy lifestyle. The Danish food and agriculture sector needs to adapt to each market’s understanding and expectations concerning these matters.
In the markets of the US, the UK, China and Germany, Denmark is to a great extent associated with foods that support a healthy, organic and natural diet. According to the survey, international decision makers in the food and agriculture industry in the four selected markets are, in general, more likely to associate ‘healthy’, ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ with Danish food products and solutions than with the products of their own country.
The good reputation among our international trading partners is good news for Denmark. According to Anne Lawaetz Arhnung, CEO, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, Danish food producers have a unique chance of positioning themselves internationally around healthy, organic and natural food products and solutions: “A large number of Danish consumers demand food products that fit a healthy and conscious lifestyle. Denmark’s high standards of living have brought the Danish food cluster to the forefront of providing nutrient-rich, organic and naturally produced food.”
OVERCOMING REGIONAL DIFFERENCES
Denmark has strict regulations and certifications, and our food cluster has high standards in production methods. These factors are objective, measurable market advantages that Danish food and agricultural companies can communicate to international trading partners. However, when branding Danish food products and solutions on non-objective parameters, Anne Lawaetz Arhnung recommends taking regional understandings into account. What is perceived as ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’ in a product may differentiate from one market to another based on cultural understandings.
Health and naturalness are subjective parameters that may be defined differently across borders. In China, ‘health’ is usually related to food safety. A Chinese buyer typically expects healthy food products to be clean and produced under hygienic circumstances with a high traceability. In a Western context, ‘health’ is more likely to be tied to a product being natural. A Western buyer will typically expect healthy food products to be free from unnecessary additives, medicaments, hormones and growth enhancers
These subjective understandings will not only depend on regional differences. The way international buyers think of non-objective parameters can be affected by many other factors. For instance, understandings of health can vary throughout different parts of the supply chain.
SELLING ORGANICS IS ABOUT BUILDING TRUST
While healthy and natural food is tied to subjective understandings, the term ‘organic’ is more likely to be understood as objective due to official certification and legislation. Europe has joint organic regulations, but the definitions and perceptions of organic food products can still differ – especially outside European borders, where regulations are different. It is important to continue to build on the great trust in Danish organic food products, especially when selling outside the EU, says Anne Lawaetz Arhnung:
Consumers outside the EU tend to be more skeptical about the credibility of organic food products. Therefore, the main focus should be building up trust in Danish certification when selling organics outside European borders. Danish food companies need to stress the fact that the certification of organics in Denmark is supervised by authorities and highly trusted among consumers
When selling organic food products and solu tions to neighboring countries within the EU, a slightly different approach can be taken, asserts Arhnung:
In European markets like Germany and the UK where awareness and trust in
Danish organic food products have already been established, Danish food companies can move on and tie their organic products to other areas of Danish expertise such as sustainability, quality and natural food production
INTERNATIONAL DEMANDS FOR HIGH STANDARDS
In Denmark, food products which support a healthy and natural diet are in high demand among a broad range of consumers. Internationally, however, food products of Danish standards are still reserved for a minor group of the world population with the right purchasing power. Nevertheless, there is a global demand for high quality products and solutions that the Danish industry can benefit from.
61% of decision makers in the surveyed markets find that health is a very important criteria when buying food products and solutions, and 35% of decision makers look for organic products. Anne Lawaetz Arhnung agrees that the Danish food and agriculture sector has a large export opportunity here:
There is an increasing global demand for nutritious, natural and organic food of the excellent standards, offered in Denmark. Danish food companies can take advantage of this unique position and enter international markets by identifying the right trading partners and build and facilitate an understanding of our unparalleled expertise