A Small Country With A Large Food Cluster

09/27/2016 03:20 pm ET Updated Sep 28, 2017

Located in Northern Europe, the Danish landscape is ideal for agriculture. In fact, out of our total area of 10.6 million acres more than 60 percent is cultivated. In the growth season, we have many hours of daylight which help us produce strong, healthy plants and animals. And today, all hours all year round, Danish companies are hard at work producing Danish favorites for the world market--from the classic Danish butter cookies to trendy organic treats.

How did a small country become a major exporter of value products? This story started more than a century ago when grain prices dropped. At that time, Danish farmers found that they could make a better living by exporting animal products. However, animal products are more risky than crops and mean more organization and cooperation.

Danish farmers have always worked together and shared the latest advances in agricultural technique. Today, farmers as well as the food industry works closely with universities to develop innovative solutions for better and more efficient, environmentally friendly production. Thus, research and innovation has been an important parameter for corporate competitiveness and the success of the Danish food industry.  

Danish ingredients are in half of the world's ice creams

The ingredients industry is an excellent example of how Denmark combines the best of an agricultural tradition with top-notch science and innovation. Several of the major Danish companies are global market leaders in their specific segments like enzymes, emulsifiers, cultures, natural colors, natural whey ingredients and are also key suppliers to the American market--with, for example, products such as potato starch that accommodate consumer trends such as non-GMO.

The innovative approach by the Danish ingredient companies is characterized by close cooperation between partners along the entire value chain. The close cooperation and exchange of views on new ideas often in cooperation with customers is a major factor in creating specific value in new products and solutions in the food industry.

Danish ingredient companies are estimated to cover 14 percent of the world market of ingredients to the food and drink industry. One in six processed food products in the world contains ingredients from Danish companies--every other ice cream sold around the globe contains Danish ingredients.


A quarter of all Danish export comes from the food cluster

60 percent of everything produced in Denmark is exported to our foreign markets--25 percent is related to the food sector. We are able to accommodate very different consumer demands around the globe---from Brits eating Danish bacon to Americans enjoying baby back ribs. 

Not only do we supply food products to around 200 markets around the world, our exports also include technology and knowhow for the agriculture and food industry. Because our products travel around the globe, we strongly believe that trade in safe, healthy food products can go hand in hand with exchange of knowledge and technology for sustainable agriculture and food production. 

High standards of safety and traceability in the production of food in Denmark give customers as well as consumers' confidence that every possible effort has been made to deliver safe and nutritious food. Furthermore, regulation on food safety and traceability is backed by a strict control system operated by Danish authorities

Focusing on sustainability

Denmark being the size of Maryland, we need to make the most of our resources. As 60 percent of our land is cultivated, so we need to produce more with less. Therefore Denmark seeks to reduce energy consumption in production and continuously looks to science for better ways to produce still higher quality products, more efficiently.

This article is part of a series of articles about the #RoyalVisitUSA. On September 27-30, a Danish business delegation, presided over by T.R.H. the Crown Prince Couple of Denmark, will be traveling to the U.S. for one of the most comprehensive trade missions from Denmark to date. The delegation represents 60 innovative Danish companies from the Healthcare, Agriculture and Food, Sustainability and Maritime sectors - all of which are leading economic sectors in Denmark. Joining the delegation are the Minister for the Environment and Food, the Minister for Business and Growth as well as five of Denmark's leading trade organizations. More than 650 Danish companies have subsidiaries in the U.S. These companies contribute to U.S. growth and job creation and employ more than 60,000 people nation-wide.