Danish meat firm prepares to tap China organic market

By By Gerard O’Dwyer, in Helsinki

- Last updated on GMT

Denmark looks to tap into Chinese organic market
Denmark looks to tap into Chinese organic market

Related tags Organic food Meat Pork China Beef Lamb Livestock Poultry

Friland A/S, Denmark’s largest specialist organic meats producer, plans to adopt a market entry strategy of “thinking big but starting small” in China, following the company gaining an important foothold on the potentially lucrative Chinese organic meats market.

The Danish Crown-owned subsidiary has been cleared by WIT, China’s organic certification and control agency, to sell organic pork and related products in China. The clearance comes after extensive on-site inspections of Friland facilities by WIT during the last quarter of 2013. Friland estimates the Chinese market could account for up to 15% of its total production of organic pork within five years.

The Danish company has worked hard since 2010 to obtain approval, said Henrik Biilmann, Friland’s CEO. The market development strategy for China, he said, would be to start small and build volume sales. The certification by WIT is the first for any Western company. “We are unaware of other foreign organic meat suppliers having obtained similar approval,”​ Biilmann told globalmeatnews.com.

Under the WIT clearance, Friland’s organic pork products can be sold in China under the country’s official certified eco-label. “There is a large and growing market for pork in China. We believe the timing is perfect to enter China,”​ said Biilmann.

The Friland CEO is set to meet representatives from the country’s leading food retailers during a scheduled one-week visit to China in February. Biilmann will also hold market co-operation talks with ESS-Food, the Danish Crown-owned red and white meats subsidiary, which operates a well-developed import, sales and distribution network across China.

Friland’s success in China could open the door for other Danish organic meat producers, said Jens Nilsen, a Copenhagen-based food industry analyst. “Friland already controls 80% of Denmark’s organic meats market. The sale of organic meats has grown strongly in Denmark since the mid-1990s, and there are now other specialised companies in this sector capable of supplying export markets,”​ said Nilsen.

The expectation is that Friland will initially concentrate in selling to high-end Chinese-owned and Western supermarket chains, including city’super, Organic and Beyond, Carrefour and Tesco. These cater to demand for high-quality organic foods among China’s growing middle-class sector, said Nilsen.

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