Danish retailer pushes for tougher welfare standards

By Andrew Burnyeat

- Last updated on GMT

Danish Crown subsidiary Friland is offering financial assistance to organic pig-farmers
Danish Crown subsidiary Friland is offering financial assistance to organic pig-farmers

Related tags Denmark Livestock

Supermarket chain Coop Danmark is pressing the Danish government to toughen standards required by a proposed animal welfare labelling scheme for retail meat and livestock products.

The system is under discussion between retailers, manufacturers and government officials.

Senior Coop spokesman Jens Juul Nielsen said: "We don't think that the suggestion is ambitious enough. We don’t support the well-being label standard because the difference for the animals’ welfare is too small. We want a label standard that ensures more welfare for the animals, ‘grass under their stomach’, so to speak."

He stressed that the company was already striving to improve its sales or organic products and was working closely with animal welfare group Dyrenes Beskyttelse on issues such as animal living space and freedom of movement on farms.

The company’s Irma shops, which stock ethically-farmed produce, have been set a target of improving their organic sales by 50% over the next five years. Such products include biodynamic goods, organic meats and free-range items.

Nielsen confirmed: "Special topics such as freedom of movement and more space for animals is the focus of the industry and are also key tags for the Coop in the coming years."

With Denmark in the midst of a general election campaign, no officials from the ministry of food, agriculture and fisheries was available for comment.

But Danish Crown spokesman Jens Hansen confirmed that his company was still involved in the talks. He declined to comment further on them, but said Danish Crown was making every effort to supply supermarkets with organic meat.

He told GlobalMeatNews​: "In Denmark we are in a lucky situation because demand for organic products has increased hugely since the start of the year. We are doing our best to keep the supermarkets supplied, given the high levels of demand."

He added: "We can’t deliver the quantity of minced beef or pork that the Danish supermarkets are asking for."​ Indeed, Danish Crown subsidiary Friland is offering financial assistance to organic pig-farmers to help them meet demand.

Signe Frese, environmental manager at Coop, said: "Coop as a whole is working very hard to expand the range of welfare products. We can sense that the market is ready for it. We work very systematically to achieve our goal with it in a unique collaboration with Dyrenes Beskyttelse."

*This article replaces an earlier piece on the topic by a different writer which included some errors.

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