Organic Farming and Food production in Denmark

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Organic - Get inspired by Denmark's world-leading organic position

Around the world, Denmark has earned a reputation as the leading nation for organic food production and know-how. At a time when organic food products are increasingly in demand around the world, Danish strengths within the organic food sector have come into their own.

Today, organic food products in Denmark have a bigger share of the retail market than anywhere else in the world, including sales in online stores. Strong and trusting collaboration across the public and private sector has provided a solid foundation for this growth adventure

A political priority – developed and supported by actors across the value chain

Over three decades, the Danish government has created the optimum conditions for nurturing organic innovation and growth. Strong and trusting collaboration across the public and private sectors have provided a solid foundation for the organic growth adventure.

Stakeholders from across the value chain, from farmer to consumer, have all helped to develop a market-driven sector where nature, animal welfare and sustainability are prime considerations. Legislation, regular controls and organic labels set the standards that food producers take pride in attaining.

Denmark has expertise in recycling nutrients into organic food production

Cooperation and trusted state control form the basis for success

In Denmark, organic food production is built up around a state-controlled system, which covers the whole food chain. All organic farms, suppliers and organic food companies are subject to government inspections at least once a year as an add-on to other regulatory inspections. This ensures that organic food is produced in compliance with the EU’s organic regulations. In addition to living up to organic regulations, organic farmers and feed and food companies must comply with the legislation that applies to food production in general – in respect of the environment, nature, animal welfare, traceability, hygiene and food safety.

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Danish farmers, companies and trade associations have furthermore introduced voluntary guidelines that are stricter than EU rules. These include prohibiting the use of nitrite in processed foods; a reduction in the use of fertilisers and a total transportation time of live animals that must not exceed 8 hours – direct from the production unit to the slaughterhouse.

In addition to EU rules, Danish farmers, companies and trade associations have introduced voluntary guidelines that are much stricter

Organic labels – a Danish specialty

Denmark was the first country in the world to get its own organic law. It happened in 1987 and in 1990 Denmark got its national organic label the red “Ø-label”. By doing so, Denmark provided the conditions that have turned an organic mindset into a thriving business area, which is both trusted and well-known for its high standards of traceability, quality and sustainability. Three decades after the organic movement took off, Danish organic food and know-how are in high demand around the globe.

Read case: How collaboration increases the market share of organic products

The food service industry has its own organic label, indicating the share of organic raw food products used in the kitchen. The Organic Cuisine Label is also state-controlled and free to get. The label comes in three categories: gold, silver and bronze, which indicates if large-scale kitchens use 100-90%, 90-60%, or 60-30% organic produce.

The Danish organic label clearly indicates that the specific production is controlled by the Danish state

One of the reasons for the Danish organic success is that it has always been a political priority. Another reason is long and trust-based cooperation between agricultural organisations, retailers, the food industry, research institutions and the public sector. This cooperation has turned the Danish organic sector into a growth adventure that only seems to continue growing both in Denmark and in the export markets.

High ambitions for organic growth

Denmark is a country with high ambitions for organic production and the Danish government will further raise the ambitions for the development of organic production. In this connection, the government has focused on doubling the organic agricultural area, the export of organic products and Danes’ consumption of organic food in 2030. As a business partner to the Danish food cluster, you will be able to bring our experience and know-how within organic food production to develop your business.

Take a virtual 360 tour in the organic agriculture and food sector of Denmark below.

Learn more about the Danish organic journey in our White Paper ‘Organic’

Header photo: Danish Veterinary and Food Administration