Danes set ‘record’ for organic consumption

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fruit and vegetables are now the largest organic category in Denmark - but consumers continue to diversify
Fruit and vegetables are now the largest organic category in Denmark - but consumers continue to diversify

Related tags: Organic products, Organic food

The organic sector accounts for almost 10% of Danish food sales and, with opportunity fuelling innovation, Denmark’s organic food makers believe they are uniquely poised for global success.

Global organic food sales have reached record heights, according to new data. Worldwide organic food purchases totalled US$90bn in 2016, a report by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Switzerland and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). The size of the global organic market has more than quintupled since 2000.

Danish shoppers are the most likely consumers to purchase organic products. The Danish organic sector’s market share stood at 9.7% in 2016. Denmark was followed by Luxembourg, where organic sales accounted for 8.6% of total food sales, and Switzerland, where the organic sector had an 8.4% market share.

“We’re truly proud of Denmark’s position as the leading organic country in the world. It shows Danes are keen to make a difference through what they put in their shopping baskets. Danes are taking joint responsibility for protecting our common natural surroundings and drinking water from pesticides and for ensuring a good life for livestock,”​ said Helle Borup Friberg, CEO of Organic Denmark (Økologisk Landsforening).

According to Organic Denmark, the country has now passed the 10%-mark for the market share of organic food products – and is the first country in the world to do so.

With nearly half of all Danes buying organic products each week, Organic Denmark expects the sector to see growth of approximately 13% in 2017.

Data from Organic Denmark reveals strong growth of organic sales
Data from Organic Denmark reveals strong growth of organic sales

“This of course makes the organic market very interesting for the Danish food makers,”​ Organic Denmark’s communications officer Line Skouboe told FoodNavigator.

Skouboe also noted that while categories that traditionally perform well in organics – fresh produce and dairy – continue to witness growth, other categories are also expanding their share of organic sales.

“The market share of [organic] fruit and vegetables is 29% and [organic] dairy is 25%. These are the biggest categories by far. But we also see a development where the Danes are expanding their organic consumption and are buying organic products within more and more categories.

"They are also [buying] more processed organic products. For example, the sale of organic juice, wine, ice cream, candy and convenience products increased by 30% to several hundred percent in 2017. It should be said, however, that it is increasing from low levels.”

Diversification delivering exports

The importance of the organic sector in Denmark provides Danish food manufacturers with something of a competitive advantage as they look to build exports.

The country was the first to establish state control of organic standards in 1987 and organic food makers in Denmark have built on these strong foundations.

“The Danes buy more and more organic products and within more and more categories. This motivates the organic companies in Denmark to be innovative and constantly develop new interesting, high quality organic products,​” Skouboe said. ”Food from Denmark is furthermore known for a high level of food safety which also makes organic products from Denmark attractive in many export markets.”

Currently, Germany and Sweden are the largest export markets for Danish organic food producers, accounting for 39% and 19% of exports respectively. However, Skouboe said that Danish food makers are increasingly attracting attention from further afield.

“More distant export markets are beginning to play a bigger role in organic export from Denmark…. China is now the third biggest export market [accounting for 12% of exports].”

Danish exports of organic food products amounted to DKK2.4bn in 2016, up 23% from the prior year.

Related topics: Organics, Market Trends

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