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Food Nation White Papers

SUSTAINABILITY

Solving global food challenges with solutions of tomorrow

Denmark is a global role model for sustainable food production and innovation. Across the food value chain, collaborative efforts aim to make the most efficient use of natural resources – with a strong view to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Primary producers invest heavily in precision farming technology to minimise their environmental footprint and maximise yield. Food processors constantly explore new ways to reduce their consumption of water, energy and single-use plastic packaging. Farmers, food manufacturers, retailers and restaurants focus strongly on upgrading waste streams to valuable products.

Through the steady refinement of production techniques, Danish farmers have learned to make the most of the relatively small area of agricultural land available to them.

Today, they produce three times more food than the Danish population can consume, with some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Food producers follow a similar path to continuous optimisation, honing their ability to produce more with less and transform raw materials into high-value products.

Resourceful collaboration across industry, academia and authorities highlights the commitment to continuous improvement in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

not only beneficial to the future of the planet and its people. They are also good for busi- ness. Denmark’s leadership within resource efficiency sets a strong example. Primary producers invest heavily in precision farming technology to minimise their environmental footprint and maximise their yield.

Food producers constantly explore new ways to reduce their consumption of water, energy and single-use plastic packaging.

Chapter 1

THE COLLABORATIVE ROAD TO SUSTAINABLE FOOD

Targeting global needs through cross-sector innovation

Denmark is a global role model for sustainable food production and innovation. Across the food value chain, collaborative efforts aim for the most efficient use of natural resources – with a strong focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Having harvested the low-hanging fruit, the challenge now is to achieve even higher net reductions in emissions.

Once again, collaboration will be necessary by extensive partnerships to find and implement the best possible solutions.

Starting in the late 19th century, the first farm cooperatives demonstrated the power of pooling resources to maximise production, optimise research and development and target new opportunities in global markets.

Today, the Danish food sector continues to invest in cross-sector partnerships that deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to global challenges.

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While production has increased by almost a third since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions

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Clover grass containing more protein and all the right amino acids

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Food manufacturers alone achieving a reduction in emissions since 2000

Since 1990, the Danish food sector has both increased production and reduced its environmental impact

The Danish agricultural and food sector has a strong track record for resource efficiency. While production has increased by almost a third since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions have declined by around 16% in the same period – food manufacturers alone achieving a 35% reduction in emissions since 2000.

These results are the outcome of extensive collaboration across the food value chain, between businesses, authorities, universities and research institutions.

Chapter 2

EFFICIENT AGRICULTURE WITH A SUSTAINABLE MINDSET

Taking the initiative on farming with an environmental focus

Generations of Danish farmers have protected their livelihood by taking good care of their livestock and natural surroundings

Today they are role models for efficient farming around the world.

Denmark’s farmers are known for being among the most climate-efficient in the world – a position they aim to maintain while inspiring other countries to follow suit. Across generations, they have made a virtue of maximising and recirculating resources to the benefit of nature and the environment. Targeted breeding, optimised feed efficiency, improved plant varieties, better soil care, the establishment of wetlands and best practices for handling manure — the list of initiatives goes on.

Notable achievements include the fact that greenhouse gas emissions from Danish milk production are among the lowest per litre in Europe, closely followed by emissions from the production of Danish beef when measuring pr. produced unit. Another is that Denmark today produces around 50% of all grass and clover seeds in the EU and 25% of world exports. Among climate-friendly crops, grass seed production is hard to beat due to the natural binding of carbon dioxide in the soil with minimal nitrogen leaching.

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Video: Jan Jansen

Generations of Danish farmers have protected their livelihood by taking good care of their livestock and natural surroundings

Today they are role models for efficient farming around the world.

Denmark’s farmers are known for being among the most climate-efficient in the world – a position they aim to maintain while inspiring other countries to follow suit. Across generations, they have made a virtue of maximising and recirculating resources to the benefit of nature and the environment. Targeted breeding, optimised feed efficiency, improved plant varieties, better soil care, the establishment of wetlands and best practices for handling manure — the list of initiatives goes on.

Notable achievements include the fact that greenhouse gas emissions from Danish milk production are among the lowest per litre in Europe, closely followed by emissions from the production of Danish beef when measuring pr. produced unit. Another is that Denmark today produces around 50% of all grass and clover seeds in the EU and 25% of world exports. Among climate-friendly crops, grass seed production is hard to beat due to the natural binding of carbon dioxide in the soil with minimal nitrogen leaching.

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Poultry has become the consumer’s favour- ite meat on markets around the world

A source of easily digestible proteins with a comparatively low climate impact, it is ideal for consumers who seek out high quality and affordable food as part of a balanced diet.

In OECD countries alone, poultry consumption has risen more than 70% since 1990 and, as global demand continues to grow, new solutions are required to produce poul- try more efficiently and sustainably. Novozymes, a world leader in biological solutions, has taken the matter in hand in partnership with DSM, a producer of animal nutrition products.

Together, they have developed and tested a new enzymatic prod- uct with a positive impact on the growth of broilers.

Across the entire American continent would mean a CO2 reduction of around 4.2 million tons a year. As feed accounts for around 70% of total production costs, farmers can look forward to significant financial savings too.

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As feed accounts for around of total production costs

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In OECD countries alone, poultry rise consumption since 1990

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Chicken guts is enabling farmers to produce more meat from the same amount of feed

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Brazilian people’s annual emissions

Reducing the carbon footprint of dairy farm- ing is an important priority. This is why the global dairy cooperative Arla Foods offers a free climate check to its farmer owners.

The climate check helps the farmers identify opportunities to optimise energy consumption, feed efficiency, manure handling and feed production. Most of the climate check recommendations lead to cost savings. For example, heat from fresh milk can be recycled to heat the farmhouse.

Climate check recommendations leads to cost savings for the farmer

Many Arla farmers produce renewable electricity based on solar, wind or biogas. The amount produced is comparable to 61% of the annual use on an average farm. This and other initiatives have reduced the climate impact of milk production significantly over the years. In fact, since 1990, good farm management has saved the world from 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents a year – a 25% reduction.

Through the climate check programme, farmers can benchmark their overall performance and gain inspiration from other farmers for continuous improvements.

Arla is also exploring how to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration, where CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil. A joint project with other companies is underway to establish a method for measuring CO2 recapture on dairy farms.

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Chapter 3

SUSTAINABLE FOOD PROCESSES ARE A PROACTIVE CHOICE

The united move towards smarter production

Denmark’s food manufacturers invest heavily in sustainable energy, water and packaging solutions without compromising on quality and food safety

Resource-efficient production is a hallmark of responsible business.

Wherever you look in the Danish food industry, targeted efforts are underway to improve energy and water efficiency in production and distribution and explore new opportunities for sustainable food packaging. There are many good examples to highlight. Two of them are the large agricultural suppliers DLG and Danish Agro.

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DLG is gradually replacing its truck fleet with more fuel-efficient models and building high efficiency production facilities. Results include an 80% reduction in energy consumption at an existing feed factory. At Danish Agro, recent investments have focused on the construction of a new biofuel plant and the training of truck drivers in ecofriendly driving.

Development in the total use of renewable energy in the food processing industry in Denmark and EU-28

Danish Crown operates Northern Europe’s largest pork processing facility in Denmark. Here, a new demand-driven ventilation system for drying equipment after cleaning has reduced electricity consumption for the drying process by 90%. Reclaimed process heat is used in production during the day and for heating cleaning water at night, covering 40% of total heating needs.

Altogether, the food industry’s combined efficiency improvements have reduced total energy consumption by 20% since 2006. Over the same period, the share of renewable energy has increased more than threefold.

Chapter 4

FIRM ROOTS IN THE CIRCULAR BIOECONOMY

Resourceful solutions for a world in balance

THE CIRCULAR VALUE CHAIN

 

70% of EU food waste occurs at household
Food service or retail level (FUSIONS, 2016). Safe means of reducing and sorting food waste is important to return nutrients and biomass to the biological cycle, for example as biofertiliser or biogas.

Nothing is wasted in the food processing industry
Side streams become feed, energy, medicine and more. For example, slaughter house waste is used for biogas production; spent grain from beer brewing goes to animal feed; and whey from cheese production is upgraded to valuable whey proteins.

Primary producers focus on increasing crop yield
Optimising feed efficiency and the circular utilisa- tion of resources. For example, nutrients in manure are returned to the field and excess milk is used to feed calves.

Chapter 5

THE CONSCIOUS CONSUMER’S PANTRY OF CHOICE

A land of opportunities to make a sustainable difference

Agenda-setting consumers demand healthy, safe and high-quality food, produced with minimal environmental impact. The Danish food cluster is ready to deliver.

Consumers worldwide focus on food quality and safety, healthy nutrition and wellbeing. At the same time, still more consumers want a sustainable lifestyle while making a difference through their purchasing choices and consumption habits.

Such concerns are stimulating an increased interest in organic products, plant-based meals and snacks and foods with a high content of protein. Locally grown seasonal raw materials have also earned a place in the spotlight as consumers are increasingly on the lookout for opportunities to reduce food waste.

Consumer desire for more sustainable convenience foods has become an important driver of organic food innovation

The Danish food sector has already come a long way with meeting these demands and becoming the pantry of choice for the con- scious consumer. Food ingredient compa- nies, for example, can offer innovative solu- tions for protein-rich and low-fat diets and natural food protection, which ensures both food safety and shelf life.

Personalised nutrition, which targets spe- cific consumer needs, for example among elderly people, is a subject of growing atten- tion. Co-development efforts that pool the knowledge and expertise of Danish ingredi- ent companies with the specialist know-how of the pharma and medical industries have great potential in this respect – with a con- stant focus on sustainable solutions.

An organic world leader
It is no coincidence that Denmark is the home of the world’s largest organic dairy company and Europe’s biggest organic meat company, exporting organic pork and beef all over the world. Denmark was the first country in the world to draw up regulations for organic production, the first to introduce national organic standards and the first to launch an organic label, which, today, is rec- ognised by nearly all Danes.

Chapter 6

WORLD-CLASS INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS

Find out more from food nation

Denmark is a global role model for sustainable food production and innovation. Across the food value chain, collaborative efforts aim for the most efficient use of natural resources – with a strong focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Yesterday’s solutions provide few answers to tomorrow’s challenges.

Continuing innovation is essential to provide a reliable and accessible food supply for the world’s growing population. To that end, food safety, health and nutrition and sustainable production will become even more important in the years ahead.

Mutually binding research and development partnerships are essential to fulfilling the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Denmark offers many examples of such collaboration – between partners in the public and private sector, between businesses and non-govern- mental organisations. Cross-sector teamwork between large and small stakeholders is underway in all regions of the country.

Mutually binding research and development partnerships are essential to fulfilling the UN sustainable development goals

It is through this commitment that world- class innovation takes shape, building the foundations for a sustainable food supply to nourish future generations.

Food Nation

Food Nation is a non-profit partnership established by the Danish government and leading private organisations and companies. It is your gateway to information about the Danish food cluster and knowhow that can accelerate the growth of international businesses through better solutions, innova- tive products and trusting cooperation.

The Danish food cluster encompasses everything from primary production in agriculture and the fishing industry to the food products consumers buy in stores.

Companies, universities, research institutes, local and national authorities and other private and public organisations belong to the extensive, collaborative network. Together, they work hand-in-hand with international partners to maintain and improve food quality and safety along the value chain.

Our innovative and knowledge intensive food sector is built on our tradition for collaboration between companies, authorities and research institutes

— Rasmus Prehn, Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries

Final Words

GUIDED BY THE UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The Danish food cluster will continue to take the lead in producing more with less.

With the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), the UN has created a common framework for global challenges. The Danish agriculture and food sector has taken the SDGs on board, alongside many other stakeholders within the Danish food sector.

Today, the SDGs serve as a guiding light for establishing best food production practices, prioritising research and development efforts and identifying innovation targets that will drive us towards a sustainable future.

An efficient and sustainable food sector will directly or indirectly contribute to all 17 goals. However, there are some goals where the strongholds of the Danish food sector are expected to make a particular impact.

These include Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture and Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

An efficient and sustainable food sector will directly or indirectly contribute to all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But there are some goals where the Danish food and agriculture sector can make a particular impact…

Goal 2
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

Goal 12
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Goal 13
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Goal 17
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

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