Denmark’s organic retail sector is already the most developed in the world, with organic products accounting for 8% of total grocery spending, according to trade association Organic Denmark. The new 67-point plan, Økologiplan Danmark, strongly focuses on increasing the amount of organic food served in the public sector, including using more organic ingredients in the 800,000 meals served each day in day care centres, government institutions and hospitals.
The government previously has announced a 60% organic goal for food served in public institutions.
“In order to achieve our goals, which are the most ambitious in the West, the public sector needs to lead the way,” said Food and Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen.
The plan includes guidelines to reach the government’s goal of doubling the amount of farmland dedicated to organic production by 2020, compared to a 2007 baseline.
Speeding conversion to organic
“We must speed up the conversion to organic farming if we are to hit the goal of doubling the area by 2020,” the document says. “The government will therefore strengthen both development and conversion and will work with alternative ownership and operation models.”
The government has earmarked 400m kroner (€53.7m) under the plan to increase organic production and supply.
Chairman of Organic Denmark, Per Kølster, welcomed the Danish government’s proposals, saying the focus on improved yields, marketing, new plant varieties and sources of protein, as well as new forms of financing, would create better conditions for organic farmers.
The action plan is available online here (in Danish).
Denmark-headquartered dairy and ingredients giant Arla Foods has also welcomed the plan, saying its sales of organic dairy products to Danish public catering kitchens reached their highest ever level in 2014 and increased 30% over the past two years.
European supply-demand imbalance
Across Europe, the organic market has increased fourfold over the past decade according to EU figures, but organic agricultural land has only doubled over the same period.
To support growth in the European organic sector, and to increase consumer confidence, the European Commission proposed stricter rules for organic production and import in March last year, and the legislation is expected to come into effect by 2017. However, some producers have disputed the Commission’s approach .