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The Organic Market is Stagnating at a High Level

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Denmark is one of Europe's pioneers in all things organic. As early as 1987, legislation was passed concerning organic agriculture and immediately the red seal Ø (for økologisk) was introduced. In the 1990s the sales of organic products grew in double figures year on year. There was a second state action plan in 1997 whose target was that 10 % of agricultural land should be farmed organically by 2003, and, with the initiative's strong support, the number of organic farms doubled between 1997 and 2002.

Since then the pace has slackened. 6.4 % of the currently farmed land is certified organic, and the proportion of organic food has been stagnating for several years, but at the impressive level of 5.5 %.  By no means, however, is this a sign that there is no movement within the organic sector. Market share is increasing, particularly in the case of vegetables and meat, and the first organic supermarkets have been created in the specialist trade. At the moment, overproduction of the most important organic product, namely milk (picture), is being reduced but, even though production fell by 2 % last year, with 390,000 t, Denmark still remained the biggest producer of organic milk in Europe.


Food of organic quality has been a success on a broad front in Denmark. According to an up-to-date study, 'Development of the Nordic-Baltic Market for Organic Food' by the Nordic Council of Ministers, 40 % of Danes purchase organic products regularly. A further 55 % buy organic occasionally. The most active consumer group is comparatively large: 14 % of customers account for 64 % of turnover, estimates Organic Denmark, an association that represents the interests not only of organic farmers but also of organic manufacturers, the organic trade and also of consumers.


'The main reason for the strong market position of organic food is not state support but the fact that supermarkets recognised organic as a strategic advantage from the outset. You simply can't ignore organic products,' says Tom Krog Nielsen (picture), Manager of the Department for Market Development at Organic Denmark. In fact, about 80 % of organic food arrives in Danish kitchens via conventional  food retailers, with Coop in the lead.


Coop Denmark is a part of the Coop North concern that also occupied a strong position in Sweden and Norway  and has just announced cooperation in purchasing with the biggest Finnish retail chain SOK. Coop Denmark has an annual turnover of about 5.3 thousand million Euros from its retail chains Kvickly, SuperBrugsen, Dagli and Fakta. Coop's environment adviser, Katrine Milman, reports that the Coop's proportion of organic food has dropped from the 5 % documented in the Fibl supermarket study a few years ago to 3.6 %. The Coop's subsidiary Irma (picture), with 60 branches in the Copenhagen region, has a higher proportion of organic products, with 11.5 % of the total stock and as high as 80 % in the case of milk. In this case, it is easy to find organic products in practically every product group, with many under the own brand Okologisk Balance.

SuperBrugsen (picture) that can be found all over the country, has a really good organic selection and clear labelling. Its own brand is called simply Økologisk. It is striking that a quarter of all organic sales occurs in discounters. For example, Netto, whose 370 branches currently stock 40
organic products, holds special organic promotions 12 times a year and wants to extend the organic range. The important role played by the conventional food retail trade is also demonstrated by price levels. In the case of the most common products, like milk, carrots, oat flakes and wheat flour, the price differences between organically and conventionally produced goods are slight in international comparison.


The last fifth of the total organic turnover, which amounted last year to 2.5 thousand million Danish Crowns or 333 million Euros according to GfK Denmark, is shared by organic shops, direct sales from the farm, organic box schemes and markets. Nielsen estimates 15 - 20 quite small to quite large organic shops, mainly in Copenhagen and in the Jutland region. More than half of the sales of organics takes place in Copenhagen and the surrounding area, where 1.4 million of the 5.35 million Danes live. (Picture: Aarstiderne)


Close cooperation between farmers, manufacturers and trade, which plays a big role in the organic sector, is often given as a reason for the popularity of organic food in Denmark. Supply chains remain transparent, and many shopkeepers regard it as important that they give the names of at least the most prominent producers on the internet or in the shop itself. In addition, organic farmers have been active in the creation of many enterprises, an outstanding example being the biggest organic box scheme provider Aarstiderne (picture above), which alone is responsible for approximately 5 % of all organic turnover in Denmark. The people running the first organic supermarkets are also farmers. In other ways, too, Danish farmers seem to have understood the significance of contact with consumers. When a good hundred organic farms opened their doors for the annual organic autumn markets (picture) on the first weekend in September, 65,000 Danes turned up - more than in the thirteen-year history of the event.


Links for further information:


Organic Denmark (in Danish Okologisk Landsforening) is located in Aarhus,
where with 30 employees, it works on the development of the Danish organic
industry. It publishes the newspaper Okologisk Jordbruk that appears every
two weeks and it also produces the website


There is an English language internet page under for foreign firms interested in Danish organic products.


A number of Danish manufacturers introduce themselves in German under

Information in English on organic cultivation and import and export can be
found at the Danish Ministry of Agriculture under







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