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Bemærk: Dokumentet er arkiveret, udløbet 07-05-2015


Oprettet: 12-07-2011

Organic farming in Denmark

An introduction til organic farming in Denmark, development,objectives and principles, inspection and label, domestic sales, consumers, export and import, advisory system, research, training, organisations and prospects

Agriculture in Denmark

Denmark is situated in the northern part of the EU and is one of the Nordic and Scandinavian countries. Denmark's climate is temperate. Winters are mild with temperatures of 0 degrees Celsius in January and February, and summers are cool with temperatures of 15.7 degrees Celsius in August. The average temperature is 7.7 degrees. In total, 712 mm of precipitation fall evenly spread over the year.

GNP per person was in 2009 40.400 EUR. The European average was the same year 23,600 EUR. Denmark has a strong economy, characterized by a balanced state budget, stable currency and low interest rates and low inflation. Denmark has suffered from the global financial crisis that started primarily in the United States originated from the housing market in 2007. Unemployment continues to rise and the deficit of public finances at some 90 billion DKK in 2010, equivalent to about five percent of gross domestic product. According to Eurostat, annual real GDP growth was in 2010 of 2.3 percent in Denmark compared to 1.8 throughout the EU.

1 USD is approx. 5.2 DKK, 1 EUR is approx. 7.4 DKK.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Denmark is a small country (4,308,000 ha) - slightly smaller than Estonia and slightly larger than Holland - with a population of 5.5 million inhabitants. Since there are few big cities in Denmark, towns and rural areas are never far apart. About 85 percent of the Danish population lives in cities - of these, 1.3 million live in the greater Copenhagen area.

The food industry employed 145,400 people in 2009 and 99,000 in food industry and 46,000 in secondary support industries.

For every 1 person in 2009 being employed in agriculture 1.3 persons were employed in industries downstream from primary production, most notably the food processing companies.

How many foreigners being employed in Danish agriculture nobody knows precisely. The Danish trade unions estimate that there are now around 10,000 and it corresponds to the number of Danes employed in agriculture.

Although the role of agriculture in the Danish economy as a whole has steadily declines with industrialization and the economic development as a whole, it is still an important industry on the basis of its net export (12 percent of Danish exports), its impact on employment and its importance in food production.

Agricultural land constitutes, according to Eurostat, to 63 % of Denmark's total area of ​​4,310,000 hectares. Of these 92 % were cultivated fields (equivalent to 58 % of Denmark's total area). In 2009, 2,624,000 hectares were cultivated. This makes Denmark the most intensively cultivated country in Europe. In Germany only 33 % of land was cultivated intensively. In the Netherlands it was 28 %. The average cultivated area in Europe was 24 %. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Denmark also holds the world record in having cultivated agriculture. No 2, 3 and 4 are Bangladesh (54.9 %), Moldova (53.8 %) and Ukraine (53.8 %.

81 percent of land is used for fodder, corn, beets, canola, corn, silage and pasture. 9 percent of land is used for human consumption, cereals, potatoes, sugar beet and vegetables. The last 10 percent is used for industrial potatoes, oilseed rape for biodiesel, grass seed, Christmas trees or the area is not cultivated.

The area devoted to agriculture peaked in 1930 with 3.2 million hectares cultivated. A reduction in the area has been seen as farmland has been given to urban development and recreational activities, particularly since 1960. At the same time profound changes occurred in farm structures. In the first half of the 20th century there were about 200,000 farms with an average area of ​​16 hectares, but after 1950’s we witnessed a slow decline. From 1960, this trend has accelerated, and during the 1960s an average of 5000 farms was closed every year. In the 1970s and 1980s the development had leveled off to 2600 farms per year, and in the 1990s to 2300. The number of farms was in 2009 40.024 with 65 ha in average.

The total milk production is regulated by the milk quota, and in 2009, production totaled 4,814 million kg.

The Danish cattle population is roughly halved since 1984, when milk quotas were introduced. The halving of cattle population has been due to a significant performance improvement. In 1984 a dairy cow produced an average of 5.900 kg of milk annually, while today it produces 9.000 kg of milk. 50 years ago in 1961 there were 1.25 million milking cows and today there are 570,000. There were 4,311 farms with milk deliveries. The Danish dairy sector is generally very export oriented, where about 2 / 3 of production is exported. Virtually all Danish dairies export, but the largest share of the export is done by Arla, which is among Europe's largest dairy companies with a turnover of almost 50 billion DKK.

The Danish pork sector has also experienced significant structural changes over the past decades. Since 1970 the number of pig slaughterhouses fell from 54 to 12; Danish Crown and Tican are the largest remaining slaughterhouses. Poultry sector, grain marketing, feed and fertilizer supply has also been rationalized considerably.

The annual production of animal products can meet the requirements of 15 million people. 12,369,000 pigs produced in Denmark in 2009. The average herd size of pigs increased from 2,189 pigs per farm in 2008 to almost 2,454 pigs per farm in 2009. At the annual meeting for Danish pig producers in 2006 former director Orla Grøn Pedersen said that over the next 8 to 10 years somewhere between 200 and 300 families will be in charge of 80 percent of the Danish pig production.

Mink production is at a stable level with an output of 14 million skins in 2009. Virtually the entire Danish mink production is exported. China is the main market for the Danish fur. In China there is further processing of the skins before re-export to other countries.

The majority of Danish food companies are cooperative enterprises as opposed to foreign agricultural companies. The cooperative companies were formed in the late 19th century as organizational form characterized by the suppliers also being the owners.

The total Danish exports of agricultural and agro-industrial products amounted to 102 billion DKK in 2009, which is 21 percent of Denmark's total merchandise exports. In 2003 61 percent of the export went to other EU countries, while Japan and the U.S. were the largest markets outside the EU.


Photo: Inger Bertelsen, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Up to and including 1950, agriculture was the country's undisputed main business. It was both a result of the 1780 rural reforms, which created efficient farms and self-initiating farmers who within 100 years quadrupled production and by 1880’s ”the cooperative movement, which created huge export revenues through the processing of an increasing livestock production. And production quadrupled again before the period around World War II.

Throughout the postwar period the agricultural production tripled. This has happened despite the fact that agricultural land has been reduced by half a million hectares and that there have been half a million fewer people to do the job. Among the main reasons is that traditional plant varieties were replaced by potentially more productive varieties. And to realize their potential, chemical fertilizers and pesticides were used extensively. Tractors replaced half a million horses that freed about 400,000 hectares for production. The tripling of milk output per dairy cow has enabled a reduction of one million dairy cows and thus in the fodder area for cows. Now three to four billion kg milk, which was previously used as pig feed, could be sold as cheese, milk powder or fresh milk. The doubling of weaned piglets per year and a quicker growth has reduced forage. The development in productivity in poultry and fur has been even greater.

Use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has contributed to several recent major environmental problems including eutrophication of inland waters, emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and a decline in biodiversity in and outside of agricultural systems. Many countries have responded to these concerns and international agreements require Denmark to reduce pollution and promote biodiversity.

In parallel, the EU sought to reduce subsidies to agriculture and to redirect funds to environmentally friendly agriculture and to rural areas. Prices of grain and beef were reduced to world levels as a basis for an incipient liberalization of agricultural trade response to the WTO, which in 1994 replaced the GATT. Instead a bureaucratic system of land grants and animal premiums was introduced. A lowering of both dairy and sugar price in compensation through payment entitlements. Many felt it as a paradox, that a growing bureaucracy followed the liberalization. But the alternative - a reduction in prices without compensation - would have been worse. And IT technologies have made the system feasible to implement. The pressure from both inside and outside the EU to farm on world market prices will create major changes in Danish agriculture in the future.

In November 2010 EU made a new proposal to reform the European Common Agricultural Policy. The initiative emphasizes that the CAP provide public goods such as nature, biodiversity, drinking water protection, climate protection, recreational opportunities and maintaining high soil fertility; also socioeconomic aspects e.g. employment and securing living conditions in rural areas are part of the proposal. Originally, the purpose of the agricultural policy was in particular to ensure a sufficient food in Europe after the Second World War II. Since then, as mentioned, it was converted from support per produced quantity of e.g. cereals or meat into a land-based support.

Organic farming in Denmark


The number of organic farms and farmland

Denmark is one of the top-ten countries in Europe as regards the organic share of the total cultivated area. The organic area is still growing, but growth has leveled off. Figures from 2009 show that the total area at ​​the end of 2009 only just reached 170,000 ha. Area increased between 2006 and 2007 with 5904 ha and grew strongly by 16,531 ha from 2007 to 2008. It only grew by about 3300 ha from 2008 to 2009. The area of ​​vegetables increased year on year and reached 1723 ha in 2009. This represents an increase of 35% since 2007. Lettuce has improved considerably, from a production area in 2007 of 52 hectares to 113 hectares in 2009. It is a growth of 117 %. The area of ​​peas has also grown from 500 ha in 2007 to 955 ha in 2009.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

This development indicates that it will be difficult to achieve a doubling of the organic area by 2020, because it would require that each year around 17,000 ha being converted. In 2008, the number of organic farms, decreased by 84 representing farms representing 3 % of the total number of organic farms. In 1997 2.6 % of all farms were organic and the organic area was only about 1.4 percent of the total farmland.

Danish Food Economics Institute doubts that a doubling of the organic agricultural area is possible. And if it should be reached, there are two prerequisites that must be met: that it gives more money than conventional farming and that the products can be marketed.

Number of organic farms and organic agricultural land (1989-2009)

Year Farms Percent of all farms Hectares Percent of all agricultural land
1989 401   9.554  
1990 523   11.581  
1991 672   17.963  
1992 675   18.653  
1993 640   20.090  
1994 677   21.145  
1995 1.050 1.5 40.884 1.5
1996 1.166 1.7 46.171 1.7
1997 1.617 2.5 64.329 2.4
1998 2.228 3.5 99.163 3.7
1999 3.099 5.2 146.685 5.5
2000 3.466 6.4 165.258 6.2
2001 3.525 6.5 173.497 6.5
2002 3.714 7.3 178.360 6.7
2003 3.510 7.2 168.154 6.3
2004 3166 6.9 160.209 6.1
2005 3036 6.1 150.815 5.5
2006 2794 5.6 144.303 5.3
2007 2835 5.9 150.207 5.6
2008 2751 6.2 166.738 6.3
2009 2689 6.3 170.346 6.4

* Method of calculation has been changed from 2005. As from 2005 only the number of farm registered before 5 May the same year are included in the area size.

The crop choice on organic farms differs considerably from the national average with their typically larger grass and green fodder areas and smaller cereal areas. Typically organic farms grow more nitrogen-fixing crops and under sown/catch crops, just as they grow vegetables on a proportionally larger area.

Husbandry on organic farms

Livestock on organic farms, 2009

  Holdings Percent of organic farms Percent of all Danish farms
Dairy cows 502 1 9,1 10,6
Suckler cows 525 20,5 19,3
Pigs 156 5,6 12,2
Sheep 306 11,7 5,0
Chickens 146 5,6 6,8

Organic milk
In Denmark in 2010 475,000 tons of organic milk was produced, which represents a growth of 7.2 % compared to 2009. In total organic milk represents 9.8 % of the total production of milk in Denmark. The production within the two first months of 2011 was 2.5 % higher than in the same two months of 2010.

The dairy sector is the largest organic sector in Denmark. In 2007 dairies produces 164 million kg organic milk for human consumption, 2 million kg of organic butter and 3 million kg of organic cheese.

Three top
Regions with most produced Danish organic milk

  Farms Mio. kg % of quota  
South Jutland 120 115 16
The former Ringkøbing County 102 93 15
North Jutland 62 53 6

Health profile of an organic and a conventional dairy cow is different. The different living conditions affect their health in different ways. This has been identified in assessments at slaughterhouses, where cows receive remarks on diseases and injuries. While conventional cows increasingly suffering from metabolic disorders, fractures ​​and bruises, more frequently respiratory disease, parasites and liver damage affect the organic cows. These findings were presented by The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture in an analysis of the slaughter of 140,000 cows.

In the summer of 2010 new legislation came into force on mandatory health counseling for farmers with major cattle and pig herds. The concept of “stable schools” for organic farmers is part of the scheme.

Top 10 among organic herds of dairy cows had the following economic results in 2009 according to The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture

Cow per year: 163
Milk yield, EKM: 10105 kg
Margin / cow per year: 9003 DKK
Gross profit per. kg milk: 0.93 DKK
Proceeds milk: 24799 DKK
Feed Costs: 12875 DKK
Veterinarian Costs: 779 DKK

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

A study done by the The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture based on data from 2831 herds, of which 309 were organic, showed in 2010 that dairy cows in organic herds last longer. Mortality rates are significantly lower than among conventional cows. Organic dairy cows live on average 3.5 months longer than the conventional and the average mortality is clearly lower. This points to a generally better health and welfare in the organic herds.

The size of organic farms

The size of organic farms in 2009

Average size <5 ha 5-9 ha 10-19.9 ha 20-29.9 ha 30-49.9 ha 50-99.9 ha >100 ha I alt
Number of organic farms 370 370 448 245 300 335 558 2626
Share of total organic area in percent 0.6 1.6 3.9 3.5 6.8 14.5 69.1 100
Number of organic farms in percent 14.1 14.1 17.1 9.3 11.4 12.8 21.2 100
Number of all Danish farms in percent 3.6 20.8 18.3 11.0 12.1 14.6 19.6 100

Regional Distribution
In 2003, the largest share of organic farms was in Jutland, followed by Zealand (20.9 %) and Funen (5.9 %). In the southern part of Jutland, approx. 12 % of the area is organic, in total, Jutland accounted for 73 % of the organic area. On the Danish islands the size of organic farms is, relatively smaller than on the mainland, Jutland. In 2002 the average size of organic farms on Zealand was 29.6 ha, while it was 55.3 ha in Jutland.

Region Number of farms Percent
Region North Jutland 415 15.8
Region Middle Jutland 809 30.8
Region South Jutland 819 31.2
Capital Region 183 7.0
Region Zealand 400 15.2

Results of two qualitative studies from the DARCOF II project "Nature quality in organic farming", which contained interviews with a total of 18 organic farmers and 11 advisors from 2004 and 2005 indicate that conversion is not just about securing a better economy on the farm but is determined by various factors, including historical and structural conditions, the presence of various pioneers, a neighboring effect and the local agricultural advisors approach to agriculture.

The study looked at two rural areas in Denmark, namely Thy and Mors. The authors write: "In Thy the result was a massive conversion to organic farming, whereas a dominant pig production with high prices for farming land was the results in Mors." The study confirms that economic motives are not the sole driving force in conversion.

Figures from 2011 from the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and Food show that Danish farmers have applied for conversion of 7,850 hectares of farmland in 2011. It is approximately 1,000 hectares more than in 2010, when 6,991 hectares were converted, but still far from the government's target of 18,000 hectares annually.

Government support has led to increased organic production. In addition to financial support to organic farmers, the Danish government also discouraged conventional farming by levying high taxes on products such as fertilizers and pesticides.

Subsidies to convert to organic farming are 1050 DKK (140 Euros) per hectare per year in conversion, and 100 DKK (13 Euros) per hectare per year in subsequent years in the commitment period.

Besides support for conversion the farmer can apply for support under the Rural Development Program for extensive or environmentally friendly farming practices (approx. 110 Euro/ha).

Typical support per hectare for a farm under and after conversion to organic farming in addition to the single payment.

Years from conversion 1.-2. year 3.-5. year Following years
Extensification 110 €/year 110 €/year 110 €/year
Converting 140 €/year 13 €/year 0 €/year
Total 250 €/year 123 €/year 110 €/year

Organic production and processing
The processors of organic products must comply with a set of rules including having to prove that the ingredients are organic and that no methods that are contrary to the basic organic concept about safe and healthy food are used. Basically all ingredients derived from agriculture have to be organic. In practice there are still difficulties getting every imaginable commodity as organic, e.g. certain spices. Therefore, a company must apply up to five % non-organic ingredients in the manufactured organic product.

A company that wishes to produce, process or package organic items must file a formal application to The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. The applicant and the inspectorate draw up an "organic report" which lays down precisely how the organic element of the company's activities will be run. For example, it describes how organic produce must be kept separate from conventional produce, either by allocating a certain area for organic production on the premises, or by producing organic foods at specific hours.

Organic certification can only be issued once the final approval from the state inspectorate has come through. Inspection of organic production is an integrated part of the activities of The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and ensures effective and regular inspection. The authorities visit a company several times a year, which gives them thorough knowledge of the company and insight into how best to ensure organic production in each case.

The Danish authorities take the production of organic foods seriously. If a company is found to be cheating, the management is reported to the police and can face fines or imprisonment. Furthermore, the management can be barred from producing or selling products

Administration and monitoring tasks related to the organic rules are divided between The Plant Directorate and The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. The Plant Directorate manages and controls the rules of organic farming and associated utility companies. The Veterinary and Food Administration manages and controls the rules on the processing and marketing of organic foods.

Commercial kitchens
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has introduced regulations for the marketing of organic food in catering, restaurants, cafes, hospitals, schools and larger businesses. The rules came into force on the 1st of January 2009, the same day as caterers were exempt from EU rules. The Danish rules allow consumers relevant and easily understandable information. Under the new rules caterers may use one of three "organic labels," which shows how much of the raw materials are organic.

Figures for Copenhagen in 2010 showed that 64 % of the food served in Copenhagen institutions and canteens is organic, while the corresponding figure in 2008 was 56 %. Compared to 2005, the organic rate has doubled.

Distribution of organics as a percentage of institutions in Copenhagen

Nurseries: 91
Kindergarten: 86
School canteens: 82
Canteens: 63
Nursing Homes: 39
Food from school classes with the subject “home economics”: 27

Organic fish
From April 2004 regulation has opened up the possibility of producing organic fish in Denmark and since 2005 it has been possible to buy organic fish from freshwater fish farms, and in 2010 the first Danish mariculture converted to organic production. In Denmark there are five organic fresh water fish farms. Of the more than 20 Danish maricultures, one is presently converted to organic production - but several are underway. Today, organic farming fish amounts to 1 % of the total production. It is the industry's goal that organic production will constitute 10 % in 2015.

More information on statistics on the Plant Directorate's website.

The Development of Organic Farming in Denmark

Organic farming has its roots in alternative farming systems, and these systems have existed for many years both in Denmark and other countries around the world, questioning whether intensive agriculture, which uses artificial fertilisers and sprays to provide the greatest possible yield, is the best way to produce foods that promote human health. Furthermore agreeing that the impact of the production method on the surrounding environment should be included as a parameter of quality.

The alternative agriculture has been particularly pronounced in two periods in recent history in Denmark: The first period was 1920-1940, and the second period was from 1960 onwards.

In the 1920´s Denmark experienced a widespread interest in natural living and natural foods, not least influenced by the biodynamic agricultural system from Germany. In 1936 The Biodynamic Association was established by influential landowners from the aristocracy.

The 1960s was the rise of the alternative agriculture part of a widespread tendency in society: consumers were aware of the industrialized agricultural impacts on the environment - maintained by a critical press. It gave more space for an alternative agricultural production which has grown in stature ever since.

The development of modern organic farming in Denmark can be divided into the following periods:

  • 1960-1980 - Organic Pioneers
  • 1981-1986 - Limited consumption
  • 1987-1992 - Mass media and politicians
  • 1993-2003 - Commercial breakthrough
  • 2004-2009 - Growth and Crisis
  • 2010-2011 - Financial crisis

1960-1980 - Organic Pioneers
Through the 1960s and 1970s, we experienced a deterioration of the environment. In particular, nitrates and pesticides in drinking water, residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs in food, eutrophication of marine and freshwater, and eutrophication and acidification of terrestrial ecosystems caused by environmental problems, which also originated from agriculture. Organic farming seemed to offer a solution to some of these challenges.

This led pioneers in organic farming to begin production. The first organic farmers were typically urban people who had moved to the countryside commencing a sustainable agriculture. They worked side by side with the approx. 100 biodynamic farmers at that time. Production, sale and consumption of organic products were less than one percent, and organic farming was in general only at the starting point. The new organic agriculture was based more on Howard Balfour method and the organic biological system than in the biodynamic method.

1981-1986 - Limited consumption
Several organic farmers started producing and farmers met up exchanging experiences at gatherings. In 1981 they established a national association for organic farmers with own breeding regulation and legal framework. Today the association has been renamed to Organic Denmark. The breeding base was heavily inspired by breeding principles of the international association for organic agriculture. In 1982, the world's first organic agricultural college, The Organic Agricultural College, was established in Denmark.

In 1985 The Danish Agriculture & Food Council established an organic extension service, in collaboration with Organic Denmark and Society for Biodynamic Farming.

In January 1982, the first organic carrots were sold by retail conglomerate COOP Denmark. Large-scale production was non-excisting and consumer interest was not overwhelming. In January 1988, the largest organic sellers in COOP Denmark were potatoes, carrots and celery, totaling 10 percent of the total organic sales, equaling one percent of the total fruit and vegetable market.

1987-1992 - Mass Media and Politicians
In particular politicians and the mass media drove the development forward in this period. The Danish Parliament adopted the world's first comprehensive legislation on organic farming in 1987, not least inspired by media attention to lobsters dying of oxygen depletion in Danish coastal waters. An important step was the establishment of the Council on Organic Food and Agriculture in 1987. The council serves today as a platform for consensus building on organic policies and has been a catalyst for initiatives in every area of the organic food production. It has representatives from the state, the organic farmers' organisations and the conventional farmers' organisation, the labour organisations, the processors, retail organisations and the consumers. The Danish State control-label, red Ø-label, was launched in 1990 strengthening the consumption of organic products, leading to more processors and retailers being interested in producing and selling organic products, and State control of organic production was established to give the consumer confidence with regard to the genuineness of products.

The organised sale of organic milk was initiated by the organic farmers themselves in 1988 through the establishment of organic dairy circles.

1993-2003 – Commercial Breakthrough
1993 was the "Year Zero" in the sales of organic products in Denmark. Suddenly the market turned around with a massive increase in the production and sales of especially organic milk and eggs.

The same year as general economic support for organic farming was established, the consumer prices in the biggest retail-store chain were lowered combined with an intensive marketing effort. A few figures illustrate the vastly positive effect: In the beginning of 1993 Coop Denmark sold weekly approx. 100.000 liters of organic milk. In the beginning of 1995 the sales were 350.000 liters weekly, and Coop Denmark could have found sale for minimum 200.000 liters more. Thus the demand increased in two years from 100.000 liters to more than 500.000 liters weekly.

In 1995 the Council on Organic Food and Agriculture developed an "Action Plan for Organic Farming" with 65 recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fishery to encourage organic farming in Denmark. The Action Plan I served as a base for much of the political work in the following years. It was followed by a second five year Action Plan in 1999.

Retail activities in 1993 were later followed up with a 5 % member bonus of organic products in COOP Denmark chains Dagli'Brugsen and SuperBrugsen in 1996 and 1997. In 1997 discount retail chain Netto published a “special offers pamphlet” only containing offers on organic products.

As an example of the new organic enterprises in these years is Aarstiderne. In 1996 Mr. Thomas Harttung founded the Barritskov Vegetable Garden, which in 1999 transformed into Aarstiderne, a box scheme delivering organic fruit, vegetables and grocery products directly to households and businesses. In 2005 the turnover was 147 million DKK with a profit of 3.5 million DKK. In 2005 Aarstiderne delivered boxes to 30,000 Danish customers.

Figures on Aarstiderne

  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Turnover 78 135 142 143 147
Profit after tax -0,96 1,25 3,08 1,32 0,18
Employees 56 81 82 93 83

A newly established Aarstiderne subsidiary in Hamburg, Germany, failed, gave deficit and was closed by Aarstiderne. Explanation of the failure is said to be that the more extensive supply of organics in Germany than in Denmark; several nationwide retail chains selling organic produce and a German family structure with woman being more at home.

Thomas Harttung, who is chairman of both Aarstiderne and ICROFS is probably the most internationally renowned Dane in organics. In 2009 Time Magazine chose Thomas Harttung as Hero of the Environment.

2004-2009 - Growth and Crisis
We experienced growth in both production and marketing. Yet the end of the period was marked by the global economic crisis.

The organic exports continued to grow, tripled from 2005 - 2009. In 2009, Denmark exported hence organic products worth 743 million DKK.

In 2004 The European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming set out 21 initiatives to achieve the objectives of developing the market for organic food and improving standards by increasing efficacy, transparency and consumer confidence. The plan aimed to achieve measures such as improving information about organic farming, streamlining public support via rural development, improving production standards or strengthening research.

The Action Plan was comprised of the two documents below.

Official Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament setting out 21 actions.

Commission staff working document containing a background analysis and comprehensive description of the proposals.

In 2004, The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries launched an information campaign to promote the EU organic logo.

In 2005, discount retail chain Netto sharpened its organic profile through increased marketing and extending the organic product range. Activities that helped create a renewed focus on organics in other retail chains as in the media and among consumers.

In the years after 2005, all retail chains included more organic products in their product range. The larger assortments and increasing consumer interest in quality food is considered to be contributory causes of the renewed growth in sales of organic products.

In 2006 there was momentum in organics. Alone in first quarter of 2006 the organic market increased as much as in all of 2005. The organic market share amounted to nearly seven percent of total sales. The 23rd of August 2006 Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende reported that consumers are crying out for more organic products, but manufacturers cannot keep up with demand. Although there was acute shortage of organic producers, Organic Denmark expected at that point that sales would double by 2010.

With its subsidiary Friland, Danish Crown had become Europe's largest organic slaughterhouse. Within three years, exports had risen 75 percent and Danish Crown had an organic turnover of 42.5 million DKK in 2006.

Thise Dairy
Thise Dairy is a smaller regional organic dairy with a production of 90 million kg milk. In 2009 the dairy experienced a profit of 8 million DKK with a turnover of 500 million DKK. The farmer transfer-price was 2.69 DKK per liter. In 2005, a Danish Food Magazine chose Thise as the Danish company with the best public image.

New Nordic Food has become a trend in gastronomy, which spreads to the Danish kitchens. The Nordic ingredients will in the future constitute a major part of the Danish every day. There will higher expenditures on vegetables, grains and berries that have been forgotten, and this trend will benefit organics.

The retail chain Irma expects that sales of organics will grow more than it has done the past few years. The share of organic products now represents 22 per cent of total sales, and it is up to three times as much as the average for other retail chains.

Governmental Organic Vision
In 2009 the Danish previous government prepared a Green Growth Vision for Denmark. The goal was to combine a high level of protection of nature and the environment with a modern and competitive agricultural production. Support for a market-driven development and ensuring sustainable food production are widely accepted political targets in Denmark. It must be done by prioritizing research in organic agriculture, both nationally and internationally. The goal being the development of the organic production, it simultaneously makes a significant contribution to the ability to meet future environmental requirements for agriculture. The former Minster for Agriculture Henrik Hoegh presented in February 2011 the governmental Organic Vision for Denmark with 18 initiatives to help revitalize organic production. The Vision initiatives include:

  • 5 million DKK annually in 2012-2013 to support the establishment of fruit and soft fruit plantations
  • 24 million DKK annually supporting investments in, among other organic livestock facilities and special equipment for organic crop production.
  • 3-5 million DKK annually to develop and test new varieties in organic crop production
  • More education in organic farming and ecology in agricultural education.
  • A framework analysis that evaluates the Danish environmental perspective in competitiveness relative to neighboring countries.

Large-scale kitchens
The Danish food authorities have introduced rules for marketing of organic food products in large-scale kitchens, restaurants, cafés, hospitals, schools and larger businesses. The rules entered into force on the 1st of January 2009, the same day as large-scale kitchens were exempted from the EU regulations. The rules ensure consumers relevant and easily understood information about the implementation in the large-scale

kitchens of organic produce. According to the new rules, the large-scale kitchens can use one of three ”organic labels” that indicate the proportion of raw materials being organic. The new labels are coloured bronze, silver and gold

The organic proportion is measured by cost (in DKK) and is given in percentage intervals – 30-60%, 60-90% or 90-100%. Large-scale kitchens with the 90-100% label will in addition be allowed to call themselves organic – e.g. ”organic restaurant”.

2010-2011 - Financial crisis
The organic market in 2010 and 2011 has evolved positively despite the financial crisis.

The average organic plant breeder recorded in 2010 an increase in operating income of 400,000 DKK. This fact is revealed in an analysis by The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture on the basis of preliminary financial statements received from organic farmers.

Video clip on organic farming - organic farmer Niels Tvedegaaard talks about the production to Tomas Norfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Video Link[]

Sales of organic products have slipped surprisingly well through the first years of the financial crisis, but revenue has not risen nearly as much as earlier. Consumers, however, are expected to spend much more money on organics in coming years. Organic Denmark expects that sales in the coming year again will reach double digit growth rates.

Video clip on organic sales - Mrs. Kirsten Lund Jensen, Agriculture & Food Council, explains marketing of Danish organics to Tomas Norfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Video Link[]

In a feature article in Midtjyllands Avis, 28 June 2011 Ole Sohn and Pia Olsen Dyhr from SF, the Socialist People’s Party write, that organics must be strengthened. In 2020 the organic cultivated area must be tripled and 60 percent of the public procurement of food must be organic. The Socialist People’s Party is now part of a multiparty government in Denmark

Many environmentalists are against the use of GMO and at the General Assembly in Organic Denmark in 2010 it was decided to work strongly against genetic engineering in food production. The aim has been to slow or possibly exclude GMO and in any case to strengthen the protection of organic food against contamination by GMO and ensure consumers and farmers a choice in relation to GMOs.


Photo: Erik Fog, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Biogas is a well-known technology, but still lacking the big breakthrough. Biogas plants can produce both energy and fertilizer. Most of the existing Danish biogas plants are designed to produce biogas from manure and liquid biomass from food - and not from organic biomass of plant material such as grasses and energy crops. Biogas production based on biomass from organic plant material like grasses and energy crops have several positive effects. It makes organic production more climate-friendly and provides nutrients as the digested biomass is transported out to the fields. This will prove important in relation to an increased expansion of the total organic area in Denmark - especially in the eastern parts of the country where there is a shortage of manure. There are currently considerable technical challenges associated with producing biogas from plant material. The challenges must be overcome before organic biogas can be used as energy source.

Organic pig
On 26 November 2010 an Agricultural Newspaper, Effektivt Landbrug, reported that suppliers of organic pigs on average have gained 3.76 DKK more in revenues than their conventional counterparts per kg. Friland, a subsidiary of Danish Crown, reports bright prospects for the organic pig production, thus expecting doubling sales of organic pigs in coming years.

Cooperation between farms

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

One of the hottest concepts right now is the idea of ​​organic matrix structures - an idea that organic farms are working together in clusters. These matrix structures can include between 3000 to 6000 hectares. Matrix-agricultural structures can contribute to a sustainable agricultural industry and local supply of healthy foods.

Organic matrix agriculture provides new opportunities for circulation of nutrients, optimum utilization of straw and manure, common large-scale rotations with many years' rotation, provide a basis for cost-effective energy plants, improved logistics and transportation, joint marketing, etc. All this will affect the operation in fields and stables. But matrix agriculture will also include decentralized micro-processing plants for food, marketing network and a better consistency in the value chain and an improved CO2 accounts. Knowledge Centre for Agriculture is in charge of a three-year collaborative project titled "Startup of organic matrix agriculture.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

English article on Matrix Agriculture

Video clip on organic farming - Mr. Niels Nørskov, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre, explains about the development of Danish organic farming to Tomas Norfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Video Link[]

Biodynamic farming, marketing and consumption have increased over the last year. Sociologist and futurist Birthe Linddal Hansen, Recommended, believe that organics has shifted from politics to being a lifestyle, while biodynamics is sticking to their roots – e.g. in rebellion against materialism, and it appeals to a new and growing group of consumers. This consumer group is affluent, often humanist educated and live in cities. The Association for Biodynamic Farming has also experienced this trend. In 2010 seven farms converted and thus the area under cultivation has increased by 42 percent since 2008. Biodynamic food producers as bakery and dairy Aurion and Naturmælk has seen increased sales in 2009 and 2010, and has difficulty in securing enough Danish-produced commodities. Demand is created by chefs, winemakers and their customers, and a group of increasingly discerning consumers.

Auto Growth
The annual consumption in Denmark per capita is around 600 DKK. This corresponds to about 6.5 percent of the total food consumption in Denmark is organic.
The high proportion of organic food consumption in Denmark is apparently unaffected by the economic crisis which started in 2008. Figures from 2011 show that organic consumption has not fallen from 2008 onwards, as we have seen in several other countries. Consumption of organic food in Denmark is not particularly sensitive to economic cycles, and it suggests that factors other than economics are at stake when we have to explain organic food consumption.
Research Director Urs Nigli, FiBL has argued that the development in Denmark is "auto-growth", i.e. a continuous growth, where one easily can reach 10 percent of sales being organic. The same should also apply to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.


The Association for Biodynamic Agriculture was established.

The Umbrella Organization International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is formed

In January 1976 38 people formed an Agricultural Group involved in ecology, socialism and collective operation of agriculture. Several group members are the following years active in the development of the organic Danish movement.

National Association of Organic Farming formed in March at a meeting in Roskilde. At the founding meeting 190 people attended. The new association was based on local groups and one of the tasks was to plan production and distribution of organic vegetables.

The Organic Agricultural College is established

The Association of Smallholders begins offering organic extension service.

The Agriculture and Food Council establish an organic extension service in collaboration with Organic Denmark and the Association for Biodynamic Agriculture.

Copenhagen University appoints its first teacher of organic farming.

The Danish Parliament adopts the world's first comprehensive legislation on organic farming.

Thise Dairy is established as Denmark's first purely organic dairy.

The newspaper Organic Farming & Business is published for the first time in biweekly newspaper format.

A national campaign for organic farming is launched

The largest Danish supermarket chain, Coop Denmark, reduced prices by 15 to 20 percent on a wide range of organic products.

General economic support for organic farming is introduced.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

In March 1994 a peak in the increasingly intense public debate on conventional farming practices is reached. It occurs when the pesticide Atrazine is found in drinking water in Ejstrupholm in an amount 13 times over the limit.

The Socialist-led government formulate an Action Plan for the development of organic production, consumption, education and research.

The 7th IFOAM World Conference is held in Denmark.

The Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries introduces enhanced support to plant breeders.

The Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming is established, and the Organic Research Station Rugballegaard is established.

The number of organic farms more than tripled over a five year period.

The government gets the Organic Food Council to formulate Action Plan II, which contains 85 recommendations to enhance organic production.

Organic e-commerce is launch by Aarstiderne.

In March Organic Denmark is established via mergers of various organic associations.

The financial support for organic agriculture is changed

A national campaign for the European logo for organic farming is launched

First year since 1989 with a decrease in the number of organic farms.

National regulation for organic fish production in Denmark is introduced.

ICROFS is established on the former DARCOF.

Denmark is appointed as The Country of the Year at the international organic trade fair BioFach in Germany.

When the Danish Gastronomic Academy in March 2010 awards eight producers of outstanding products, five of the recipients are organic.

Organic Objectives and Principles

Organic agriculture is different than the conventional as it has a vision of a different farming. A common feature of all organic objectives is that farming people are considered to be part of nature - in a rotation. Nature is so complex, however, that we do not have a full understanding of the consequences of our actions on it - we therefore work carefully. Finally, the cultural and social aspects of agriculture have a central place in organic farming.

Organic farming differs from conventional farming in that it is based on principles of:

  • Preserving the fertility of the soil
  • Avoiding all forms of pollution
  • Producing goods of optimum nutritional quality
  • Utilizing local resources and labour in a closed cycle
  • Reducing the use of non-renewable resources to a minimum
  • Providing domestic animals with good living conditions
  • Ensuring that the farmer can generate sufficient income from his farm

The principles of organic agriculture are the result of a two-year, open and comprehensive process conducted by IFOAM, the world organization of organic agriculture in 2003-2005.

Organic agriculture is based on four ethical principles that express what organic agriculture can contribute to the world, and provides a vision to improve all agriculture in a global context.

These Principles are the roots from which organic agriculture grows and develops.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

The principle of health
Organic agriculture should sustain and improve soil, plants, animals, humans and the planet's health as an indivisible entity.

The principle of ecology
Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.

The principle of fairness
Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities 

The principle of care
Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.

More information on the four principles can be downloaded from the IFOAM website.

In 2005, Organic Denmark presented a strategic plan for development of production and market by 2013; the targets would mean that the organic area has to be expanded by 50% by 2013 representing 12% of the total Danish agricultural area.

Targets for 2007-2012:

  • A doubling of organic sales in retail trade
  • A tripling of exports of organic food
  • A threefold increase in sales through organic shops
  • A quadrupling of sales to the catering industry

Organic Denmark adopted a vision in 2007: “Organic food is the primary production in Denmark to benefit the natural environment, animals and humans.” The association's mission is: “Organic Denmark encourages development and diffusion of organic food in an interaction between organic farmers, businesses and consumers.”

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Organic Denmark has joined IFOAM's principles based on cultivation in interaction with the environment, social issues, ecology's credibility and methods.

11 organic landmarks
In December 2010, and based on input from more than 400 organic farmers The Organic-Section formulated 11 landmarks for the work of the Danish Agriculture & Food Council to promote organic farming in Denmark.

High Credibility:
We must protect the credibility of organic farming. We must constantly develop the organic values.

Healthy Foods:
We must work to develop and disseminate knowledge about the good qualities to human health and quality of life of organics. And we support research on the topic.

Quality Foods:
Organic products must differentiate themselves from conventional products on taste, health and environmental concerns.

Animal welfare:
It is important that animals have access to the outdoors and the opportunity to perform a natural behavior.

Medication Consumption:
We must make a long-term action plan that focuses on reducing and if possible completely phase out the use of antibiotics in organic livestock.

Organic farming:
- Is a sustainable agriculture focusing on CO2 neutrality, recycling and reuse of nutrients from land and city.

Cooperation between manufacturers:
We need to promote opportunities for cooperation between organic farmers for nutrient balances, processing and marketing.

There should be research on cultivation techniques, plant varieties and animal breeds that fit organic farming conditions.

We support clear and unambiguous rules and an effective control. But the rules must be harmonized in the EU.

We work to strengthen the teaching of organic farming in agricultural education and in higher education.

We need a continuous effort to educate consumers about the importance of organic farming for nature, environment, animal welfare and human health.

The Strategy 2012 for The Danish Agriculture & Food Council includes a section on nine key areas of focus for the organization. The 8th Objective named "Green growth in balance." Here is organic farming mentioned several times. The Danish Agriculture & Food Council wants to help increase exports of organic products by 10 percent annually. In addition, the organization works to shift production to a market-based organic production as an active tool for improved natural and environmental conditions. The Danish Agriculture & Food Council wishes at the end of the strategy period in 2013 to have secured more attractive schemes for conversion to organic farming.

Inspection and Label

The "Ø"-label is an inspection label launched in 1990. The logo is ”famous” in Denmark as it is known by 98 % of all Danish consumers. 90% are confident that the products carrying this logo actually are organic. Although these figures are almost self-explanatory, they also tell the story of a long-term involvement and serious collaboration between the sector and the authorities.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

The regulations associated with the Ø label are based on EU legislation - although Danish rules still apply in a few areas because EU legislation still does not cover all aspects of organic activities.

The red Ø label that says 'certified organic' tells that it is the Danish authorities, who monitored the farm or the company who most recently processed, packed or labeled an organic product. The organic label that says 'certified organic' can voluntarily be put on organic foods and some organic non-food products (e.g. organic dog and cat food), when the processing and preparation of the product has been controlled and certified by the organic authorities in Denmark..

Maintaining confidence in organic production is dependent on adherence to and strengthening of the Ø-label. The production standards on which the symbol is based must satisfy the standards of both consumers and organic producers as to respect for the environment, health, livestock, welfare etc.

A study shows that 85 % of the Danish consumers do not trust foreign organic products without the Ø-label. The more distant and exotic the product is, the less confidence the consumers had.

The red Ø-label symbolises the organic origin; the crown in the middle symbolises the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. The red colour symbolises that the inspection is Danish - the Danish flag being red and white.

The organic products that are sold in Denmark are today often labeled with both the Danish state-controlled logo and the EU logo, and there is great confidence in the logos. As of July 2010 the EU logo became mandatory. The consumer confidence has been built up through a public organic control system from “farm to fork”, carried out by the Danish authorities, and by a credible organic sector. The Danish state’s authority and independence of economic interests has great importance for the high confidence that consumers have in the organic control system.

In autumn 2004 the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries launched an information campaign to promote the EU organic logo, which was introduced in 2000. It might seem paradoxical that Denmark was initiating a campaign for the EU logo since an effective national organic logo already existed. The authorities wanted however to contribute to the development of organic movement in the EU, and increased trade is regarded as necessary if the organic production is to continue its development.

The campaign ran until September 2005. The campaign targeted the entire organic food chain from farmers to the processing industry, retail trade and consumers. A mid-evaluation of the campaign in 2004 showed that 42 % of the population in 2004 was familiar with the EU logo. Before the campaign only 7 % were aware of the EU logo.

The organic food label
Restaurants, cafes, kitchens, hospitals, schools and larger businesses have the opportunity to show their organic profile. This is done using organic food label, which indicates the organic proportion of the raw materials used in the kitchen. The food label can either be gold, silver or bronze.

  • Gold label: 90 to 100 % organic ingredients
  • Silver label: 60 to 90 % organic ingredients
  • Bronze label: 30 to 60 % organic ingredients


Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Denmark is exceptional in having an official set of regulations and a single unique symbol for organic products, and also in that the State undertakes inspections. In general Danes contrary to other neighboring countries have great confidence in the State as a serious and neutral body of inspection and labeling.

All farmers who practice organic farming must be authorised in organic management. Amongst other things, in collaboration with an organic agricultural adviser, the farmer must set out a plan for converting to organic management. Authorisation is not granted until the farm has been inspected and the conversion plan accepted by the Plant Directorate.

An inspector visits all Danish organic farms from the Plant Directorate at least once a year. The control visit normally occurs during the summer period, whilst the crops are still in the field. In addition, an unannounced visit is paid to 25 % of the farms each year.

The control consists partly of a physical check, in which fields, animal buildings, and other farm buildings are inspected, and partly of an inspection of documents. The latter includes control on the purchase of feeds and manures, and inspection of the farmer's feeding, sowing and manure application plans.

When a product is sold as "organic", a control must also be made to see that any processing (such as that involved in the case of juice and sandwich spreads, etc.) complies with organic rules. Furthermore, a control must be made of the wrapping and packaging processes to ensure that there is no mixing with non-organic products. Companies that, for example, process, pack or import organic foods must notify the public authorities.

In association with the company, the authorities will work out an organic report that, amongst other things, describes how organic products are to be kept separate from non-organic products, and how accounts for purchases and sales must be presented.

A very comprehensive control of organic production is carried out at least once a year. To strengthen the control of organic products The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration also makes crosschecks. Each year a random selection of companies is made, and their accounts are compared with those of their suppliers and customers. This process establishes whether the amount of organic products bought and sold tallies between companies.

If, at a control visit, it is established that a company is not complying with the regulations for organic production, the authorities will step in. In minor cases the company will receive a sharp reminder to comply with regulations. Serious cases can lead to an order, fine and possible report to the police.

Domestic Sales

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Until the early 1990s, most of the organic products were sold in Denmark from farm shops, markets or health food stores. The situation is very different today, where 85 percent of all organic products are sold in supermarkets. One could describe the Danish market for organic food as relatively mature, it does not suffer serious supply shortages and barriers experienced in other markets outside Denmark.

Denmark has a high consumption of organic products per capita compared with other European countries. In 2006, the annual per capita consumption of around 80 Euros, and only Switzerland had a higher annual consumption of 102 Euros. Germany is in third place with 56 Euros per capita. For comparison, in the EU consumers spent in 2006 on average approx. 29 Euros on organic products.

Figures for sales of organic foods in retail trade shows that Danes are increasingly becoming more and more organic. In 2010, sales increased by 4.2 per cent. In 2010 the retail business sold organic food for 5.1 billion DKK. Especially in fruits and vegetables, the figures show significant progress. Organic carrots, tomatoes and potatoes, and in particular apples and bananas have experienced double-digit growth rates, both in volume and revenue terms. There has also been a rise in sales of pasta, flour and rice.

Turnover of organic foods in retail shops by unit, commodities and time

  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Quantity in tons                
Turnover, total 154 372 154 653 168 454 186 817 210 639 233 649 256 118 267 019
Rice, bread, pasta, flour, groats, cakes, total 14557 14609 15026 17272 21218 27220 29185 30810
Ryebread 2249 2399 2249 3011 3815 4402 2984 2342
White bread 841 528 205 261 943 2326 2427 2153
Pasta 931 957 1044 1231 1853 2462 3178 3924
Flour 4903 4671 4846 5303 5901 6250 7342 8331
Groats, cornflakes, muesli etc. 4813 5303 5858 5515 7386 8886 10002 10369
Crisp bread, rice cakes 280 217 217 232 442 743 638 570
Other flour- and groatproducts 82 90 71 1 103 126 750 706 1 098
Meat, spreads, offal, total 1768 2002 2549 2979 3330 4018 3618 3623
Beef 1029 1106 1379 1553 1532 1724 1491 1424
Pig meat 202 333 422 452 510 838 575 429
Cold cuts of meat and poultry 389 442 589 756 956 1 079 996 871
Fish, shellfish, total 0 0 0 7 6 29 17 26
Milk, cheese, eggs, total 111 165 109 155 116 949 129 600 136 931 142 076 156 337 154 069
Whole milk 11701 8322 7387 7697 8846 8424 8811 7838
Semi-skimmed milk (2003 and 2004 are incl. minimilk) 41868 54291 24673 26587 22039 22133 23317 20097
Minimilk (2005-)     34635 40246 44774 45527 52630 53065
Skimmed milk 32564 30104 33296 33302 34664 36131 41204 41876
Cream, sour cream etc. 1304 1648 1576 2137 2507 2603 3020 2830
Other milk 10631 1799 1091 1551 1580 4123 3171 3564
Fermented products 3615 3755 4918 7369 10234 12144 12426 13301
Cheese 1237 1091 1341 1626 1494 1882 2312 2041
Eggs 4391 4523 4790 5678 6505 5945 6358 6589
Fats and oils, total 1503 1607 2164 2350 2724 3188 354 3885
Butter etc. 1289 1365 1857 1934 2270 2417 2922 3153
Cooking oils 117 138 151 266 337 505 730 602
Fruits, total 2871 3658 4819 5567 8807 9671 12675 14629
Citrus fruit, fresh 1142 1329 1583 1798 2771 3379 4313 3288
Bananas, fresh 475 603 962 952 2078 1558 3245 6220
Apples, fresh 521 684 1008 1215 1929 1606 1600 1684
Stone fruit and berries, fresh 46 106 279 399 315 312 788 615
Dried fruit 485 535 541 818 972 1448 1359 1118
Nuts, almonds 31 39 34 37 114 416 450 667
Vegetables, total 16954 18043 21184 22259 26414 31984 33232 42423
Lettuce, Chinese cabbage, spinach, fresh 298 111 92 144 221 633 634 859
Tomatoes, fresh 445 443 480 730 1 452 1 179 1 440 2 395
Cucumbers, fresh 273 323 278 385 930 682 954 1 277
Carrots, fresh 8394 9365 11443 10769 11659 14916 13715 16212
Potatoes, fresh 3833 4143 4692 4916 5593 6173 6180 7969
Onions, fresh 1528 1544 1826 1873 2219 2295 2447 1871
Frozen vegetables, potato products 401 298 270 330 560 864 1300 1679
Vegetables, canned 862 867 1090 1424 1666 2264 2929 5394
Sugar, jams, chocolate, candy, ice-cream etc., total 1484 1542 1571 1567 2600 3784 4519 4404
Sugar 880 916 1 021 939 1455 1539 1950 1585
Syrup, honey 131 112 119 135 198 374 268 487
Jams etc. 316 344 259 250 454 775 953 899
Chocolate (incl. compound chocolate) 15 20 19 27 115 198 220 357
Ice-cream, dessert 136 146 145 204 359 886 1 094 1 041
Spices, stock cube etc., total 588 880 1 039 1 074 1 649 2 489 2 957 3 230
Ketchup, dressing, mayonnaise 102 127 154 215 344 657 1103 1523
Spices 171 191 293 149 356 438 640 460
Baby food (canned goods etc.) 241 449 426 544 694 986 673 757
Coffee, tea, cocoa etc., total 770 747 774 910 1 296 1 401 1 602 1 953
Juices, fruit juices, total 2522 2197 2115 2799 4843 6606 6525 6234
Wine, cider and beer, total 191 212 262 434 821 1182 1597 1732

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council was pleased with the increase. Despite a weakened total retail sale due to financial crises, the Danes maintained purchasing organic produce in 2010.

Mr. Klaus Jorgensen, The Danish Agriculture & Food Council believes that the reason for the popularity of organic products continuing to grow, is the fact that is the goods which are not essential, we first save away. Food is not equally affected by our income.

Many retail chains in Denmark use “organic” as part of their strategic profile because consumers of organic products are among the trendsetters. Today it is therefore possible to buy organic food at discount shops as well as in hypermarkets and supermarkets. The market potential for organic products is very good today. The growth in retail trade was 18 % in DKK and 11 % in quantity in 2006, and in 2007 figures show that sales rose by a further 33 % and quantities by 13 %. The explanation for the difference in the rise between sales and quantity is that consumers buy more refined products and more special products, and that prices were rising on standard organic products in particular. Fruit and meat have had the greatest relative market growth in recent years, but from a low starting point.

Family shopping

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Surveys from research company GfK has revealed that 45 % of Danes buy organic products every week and every month 70 % of all Danes shop organic. Figures show that the percentage of organics in the household total food consumption increased from 4.6 % in 2009 to 7.5 % in 2010.

The figure shows the evolution of the organic market 1990 to 2010. The figure shows that the organic market was rising from 1990 to 1999, when the market stagnated. The slowdown in growth in the organic market may in particular be explained by lack of news value and focus on organics of both retail chains in the press. In 2005 consumers started purchasing organic products again. As the figure shows, the organic market share rose from 3.9 % in 2005 to 7.6 % in 2010.

Click on the image to view larger version

Retail Chain Irma showed organic market share which had risen from 8.4 % in 2002 to 21.2 % in 2009. An inventory of total sales in Irma showed that organic products contributed almost ½ billion DKK in 2009. Organics proportion is thus almost three times as high as in 2002.

IRMA organic sales as a percentage of total sales at retail chain

Category 2002 2009
Total 8.4 21.2
Eggs 52 74.5
Breakfast 26.5 67.8
Dairy 45.9 67.4
Meats/sausages 9.7 28.3
Cheese 15.8 23.0
Wine 0.3 7.8

COOP Denmark, one of the major Danish retail conglomerates and a retail co-operatives will over the next five years, increase its organic share from current 7 to 10 % said company representatives from Coop in August 2010 following an analysis of consumption of organics in families with children. The vision for Coop is an organic market share of 10 % over five years, representing an increase of 1 billion DKK or more annually increased sales of 200 million DKK over the next 5 years.

Price Check
The newspaper Ecology & Business conducted a price check in the spring of 2010 with goods from 12 grocery chains. The samples being the cheapest comparable basic product in 25 product categories. In the table the average of some of the prices are presented

Semi-skimmed milk 7.20 DKK
Cheese 45 % 1 kg 93.69
Ice-cream, 1 l 30.73
Butter, 250 grams 15.18
Oatmeal, 1 kg 12.84
Wheat flour, 2 kg 9.80
Rye bread 1 kg 25.58
Orange Juice, 1 l 18.29
Carrots, 1 kg 10.88
Potatoes, 1 kg 7.90
Tomatoes, 1 kg 32.61
Minced pork, 1 kg 99.46
Minced beef, 1 kg 10-12 % 82.55
Sausage, 1 kg 155.05

The price comparison also shows that the price of potatoes has fallen by 39 per cent since 2008, and oatmeal is 16 percent cheaper.

Price Check in 2008 and 2010 prices in DKK

Product 2008 2010 Change, %
Potatoes 12.05 7.30 -39.4
Oatmeal 15.20 12.84 -15.5
Semi-skimmed milk 8.30 7.20 -13.6
Butter 16.79 15.18 -9.6
Orange Juice 17.43 18.29 +1.3
Carrots 9.97 10.88 +4.9
Minced beef 79.35 82.55 +4.0

Marketing of milk
On the 8th of August 2006 Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende reported that small dairies Thise Dairy, Natur Maelk and Hirtshals Dairy experienced success with increased sales of milk. It happened at the expense of Arla Foods, which within a few years had lost about 10 % of the domestic market. Berlingske Tidende also told that although consumer purchases of dairy products had fallen slightly in recent years, Coop's discount chain Fakta increased sales of products from small dairies with more than 50 % in 2005 compared to the year before. The country's leading retail chain in sales of organic dairy products, Irma, have for long had Thise as sole supplier of organic dairy products - 80 percent of liquid milk sales in Irma in 2006 was organic.

It was reported that sales of organic wine, liqueur, beer and cider in 2010 increased by 35 %. This is a product category which has increased enormously in comparison to the overall growth of organic goods, which in 2009 was approx. five %.

Retail trade in organic products
As the table shows, there is great variation in the proportion of organic products in terms of value in each category. Where for basic goods such as oatmeal, milk, flour, eggs and juice is market share of 20 % or more in the first half of 2010, meats and pork are only having market shares below 2 %.

Click on the image to view larger version

Development of the specialised organic sector
Observers from countries with strong sales of organic produce in health shops and specialised organic shops outside Denmark have over the years wondered why organics is primarily sold via conventional retail-outlets in Denmark. This market situation does not seem likely to change in the short term. In 2008 the following chart was drawn on the specialised organic sector in Denmark.

  Changes Challenges Opportunities / Possibilities
Market share of specialised organic retail sector It may increase. But beside development of Danish specialised organic retailers it is not likely that international organic retailers will start operating.   Denmark is too small, and has a relatively poor tradition for wide product range and speciality products, compared to for example France.   Denmark is a small country with only one city. Difficult to build up efficient organic supermarket chains.   For the development of specialised organic retailing the large market power of the conventional retailers might be a barrier. The large retailers usually tie up their suppliers and in a period with lack of organic products the contracting may increase. Organic processors will develop as well to be able to supply large product range. There will be more processors that only do organic processing and develop specialised goods at high prices. They will focus more on selling to specialised organic retailers that do not rely as much on discount sales.
Product ranges Increase Price and quality Develop healthy convenience food
Customer typology Not only “green” consumers, but also health, quality and trendiness Costumers want high quality, reliable products and reasonable prices.   Non GMO and natural food (distance to functional food) Food lovers share of consumers increase.
Supply channel Further globalisation of supply chains To get local and fresh organic food from local organic farmers Increase conversion of Danish farmland
Competition   The price competition from conventional and discounts retailers is hard for specialised shops  




Consumer habits have changed in recent years and the focus has shifted from mass consumption towards more value-based consumption. Consumption is not so much quantity and price as based on the concepts of food security, health, intimacy and sustainability.

Attitude Based Segmentation
In 2007 Organic Denmark conducted an analysis which showed that Danish consumers can be divided into five archetypes. The table below shows the positions and essential features of the five segments:  

Idealist People who enjoy life Skeptic The
Safety Oriented
like and will
like to support
organic ideas.
I believe that
food is
I'm buying
because it
minimizes the
risk of
It is important
to me that food is
environmentally friendly.  
I follow
emerging trends
When I have weekend
I spend time on shopping and
I would like
to pay a little extra
for food
with storytelling and origin.
I attach great
emphasis on vitamins and
minerals in the foods I
buy.   I follow the
on healthy and
I attach great
emphasis on
the products I
buy is
low fat.
I often read
the table of contents on
foods I
I often make traditional dishes.   I have more confidence
in foods from the
butcher or greengrocer
rather than from
I do not think I
know enough about
what organic farming
really is.  
I think that
organic goods
are too expensive compared to conventional
The price is very
important for me
when I shop.  
Organics is often linked with
high quality food. Organic food often tastes better. Organic products are healthier,
although there is no
scientific evidence thereof.
The supply of organic food
is too small.  
Much cheating with
organic farming.
Organics is a
business scam.  
I have greater confidence in the quality when food is a known
brand name. I have more confidence in organic Danish goods than for
organic goods from abroad. Organic rules are not stringent enough.

The strongest motivation for buying organics is altruistic arguments as well as environmental and animal welfare. But also health and quality is associated with organic farming; half of Danish consumers indicate the aforementioned reasons for their choice of organic products. The strongest barrier for not buying organic is high prices. But also lack of knowledge is probably a major barrier, as it may intensify
experiences of high prices.

Households buying relatively more organic goods in Greater Copenhagen. The organic share of total household shopping in the Greater Copenhagen constituting 13.2 % in first half of 2010. In relation to family status, it is families with 1 child who has the highest organic share of total grocery purchases equaling 9.7 % in the first half of 2010.

The age group, 30-39 years, has the highest organic share of grocery purchases equaling 11.8 %. It is typically when the family gets kids that the conscious choice of organic products emerges. It is consumers with a higher education, which has the highest organic share of grocery purchases with 22.2v% in first half of 2010.

Project for Danish consumption of organics

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

The project CONCEPTS - The Viability and Stability of Demand: The Future Outlook for the Organic Market in Denmark has examined the extent to which consumers' confidence in organics is based on a conception of organics as an integrated whole. The project concludes that organic food consumption in Denmark is no longer exclusively borne by a small, exclusive group of confident consumers, which probably accounted for most of the consumption in the early 1990s. The project also concludes that demand for organic food goes in two directions: Some will demand products, besides being organic, also has additional qualities, for example in relation to ethical production. Others will continue to buy organic produce if they are relatively inexpensive and easily accessible. Developments in prices, increased demand and more types of shops in the market are not the only explanations for the growth spurt, but information on pesticide residues in conventionally produced fruits and vegetables and information linking organic farming and health, may also be contributing factors

In 2011 the book “Økologiske fødevarer – hvor bevæger forbrugerne sig hen?” was published by the Center for Bioethics and Risk Assessment. The book summarizes the findings from research on why Danish consumers buy organic food, who the organic consumers are and what it takes to maintain and enhance the organic food consumption in Denmark.

Exports and Imports

Consumer demand for a broad range of organic products has resulted in Danish imports of organic products exceeding exports. Organic exports consist of dairy products, pig meat, grain and animal feed. Germany is by far the largest export market, followed by Sweden, France and the UK. Danish imports consist of organic fruit and vegetables, grain and animal feed from other EU countries, in particular the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.


Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

There are only limited marketing of organic food across EU borders - in comparison to the sector's potential. The sluggish market situation is partly due to technical trade barriers that hamper trade. It is especially a problem that private organic bodies in other countries imposing requirements that in some cases goes beyond the EU rules. Danish companies must meet a number of additional requirements to be allowed to use that control body organic logo - such as retail chains and supermarkets in the importing countries.

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Imports of organic products declined from 2008 to 2009 from 1.383 million. DKK to 1.090 million. DKK Compared with 2007 there is an increase of 33 percent. The largest decrease in 2009 was for feed declined by 56 percent. and for cereals and cereal products dropped by 37 percent. For these commodities, the import values ​​in 2009 were much like figures in 2007. Fruits and vegetables accounted for the largest part of imported organic products, 39 percent in 2009. Since 2003, imports of organic products rose by 260 per cent.

Overall, the imported organic products at least meet standards equivalent to EU organic regulation. There are special rules for buying organic products in other EU Member States, and there are additional rules for imports of organic products from foreign countries, i.e. countries outside the EU.

Danish companies importing organic products from around the world, typically raw materials for further processing, but it can also be already processed and packaged organic products. Cooperation with a Danish company can open doors for the imported goods.


Photo: Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Statistics Denmark runs StatBank Denmark which contains detailed statistical information on Denmark. The database is free of charge and data can be exported in several file formats and presented as diagrams or maps. In StatBank Denmark one can find uptodate information external trade with organic products by imports and exports and country.


Advisory System


Photo: Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Denmark has an extension system which is unique as it is owned and run by the farmers themselves. It is therefore impartial towards public authorities and private interests. The objective of providing advice is to improve economic, working and living conditions for farmers' families, but also to develop quality products and a greater consideration for ethics and the environment in agricultural production.

Danish Agricultural Advisory Service is Denmark's oldest and largest organic extension service. The extension service, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, run by the Danish farmers' unions, The Danish Agriculture & Food Council, has two levels.

 Regionally, there are approximately 30 agricultural centres advising the farmers on a direct basis. Today approx. 90 advisers (the equivalent of 40 full-time jobs) provide advice on organic farming. Besides providing organic farmer with the latest information, the organic advisers supply information to conventional farmers who are gradually being inspired by organic methods of production, e.g. the increasing use of clover and grass on dairy and arable farms.

The second layer in the extension service is the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture. Here specialists co-ordinate the advisory development. Within organic farming it is done by an internal group of 16 specialists representing the various professional fields. The organic specialists at the Centre act as knowledge bank and supply local advisors with the latest information within specialised areas of agriculture, develop new computer software, conduct experiments and run surveys etc.

The first Danish organic advisors set off in 1985. It was the first year a nationwide service, which ensured that there was advice to the few organic farmers, who were scattered around the country. Today organic extension service is integrated on the local agricultural centers.

More information on the advisory system

The Society for Biodynamic Farming and Organic Denmark also offer advisory service. Read more on the associations' websites.


Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Danish research in organic agriculture has increased significantly since 1995, but there is still a need for targeted research to help promote and develop organic farming.

Promoting organic farming has been a part of Danish government policy for several years. An important initiative in this regard has been the establishment of the Danish International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems in 1996. The Danish government decided in 2008 decided to give the Centre an international mandate and an international board.

ICROFS vision is that the principles of organic agriculture are a global benchmark for sustainability in agricultural and food systems in the light of results from research and innovation. Center summarizes and disseminates scientific information across traditional boundaries and disciplines.

ICROFS is a "center without walls" where scientists remain in their own environments, but work across institutions. Activities of ICROFS are coordinated by the secretariat at Research Centre Foulum, Aarhus University.

Since 1996 three major organic research programmes have been launched: DARCOF I, DARCOF II and DARCOF III.

DARCOF I (1996-1999)
Included 33 research projects with a total budget of 100 million DKK. Research showed among other things, that organic agriculture holds considerable potential in the protection of environment and natural values, improved welfare and health of livestock and in relation to achieving better quality food.

DARCOF II (2000-2005)
Here the emphasis was on developing sustainable production systems, which itself is based on the desire to actively accommodate factors such as nature, environment, animal welfare - health, food and more. The goal was that the ecological principles should be traceable to organic products, which can thus emerge as real alternatives to conventional products. There is implemented a total of 43 research projects with a total budget of 227 million DKK.

DARCOF III (2006-2010)
The goal of DARCOF III program was to conduct research, covering the entire organic value chain. At the same time, the goal for the research to generate further knowledge about organic farming opportunities to contribute to sustainable community development. The program consisted of 15 research projects.

Information on ICROFS

Green Development and Demonstration Program (GDDP) aims to create better links between research, development and demonstration of knowledge in the fields of food, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture. GDDP is part of the Green Growth Agreement, which was presented in June 2009. The government and Danish People's Party agreed on a series of initiatives designed to improve conditions for growth and contribute to employment in agriculture, food industry and in consequence industries. The agreement will also help to support Denmark's goal of 30 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Organic Eprints
Under the auspices of ICROFS the internet archive Organic Eprints was established in 2002. Organic Eprints is an open on-line archive of publications on research in organic agriculture with more than 12,000 publications - a number that rises continuously. There are 17,500 registered users of organic Eprints and approx. 5000 visits daily. In 2011 Organic Eprints was ranked number 16 out of 800 similar archives globally. All use of the archive is free. The archive contains scientific and popular articles, newsletters, reports, presentations, project descriptions, books and other research publications, especially from Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, but also from the rest of Europe and the world.


In March 2008, a new agricultural education was introduced. Agricultural education is a training, which alternates between school and practical on farm training. Agricultural education lasts 3 years and 5 to 11 months. To start at the farmer and agricultural engineer training, the young must have completed 9 years of schooling.

Today young people are flocking to the agricultural colleges. Despite crisis for Danish agriculture, the search for agricultural schools in 2010 for the first time in the past 12 years reached more than 1100 students. Many seek training today because they want to work as managers, but not necessarily own their own farm. Women's share of agricultural colleges has grown from 20 percent at the millennium to approx. 33 percent today.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Brochure on agricultural education in Denmark

Ecological subjects are becoming more prevalent in agricultural colleges. Gravenstein Agricultural College offer e.g. at the third year specialized subjects in organic farming. Interest in organics is also reflected in management training, and Gravenstein Agricultural College has a few students with a focus on organic production.

Organic Agricultural College
Denmark has the oldest organic agricultural college in Europe, Kalo Organic Agricultural College. 1. March 2003 Kalo Agricultural College merged with The Organic Agricultural College. Twenty to thirty agricultural students are trained per year. The school's mission is to provide organic agriculture, training and consultancy. And the college also contributes to the development and dissemination of knowledge, principles and practices in organic agriculture - both nationally and internationally. The college educate young people, Danish and foreign organic farmers at all levels and employees in farming and related industries.

More information om Kaloe Organic Agricultural College

Organic training


Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Other agricultural colleges in Denmark offer organic courses and training. Besides agricultural colleges agricultural consultants and farmers' associations offer many in-service courses for organic farmers. These are typically one to three days long and are in different areas of organic farming.

An example of training is so-called stable schools for the milk producers around the country. Today, every fourth dairy farmer is enrolled in stable schools with health advice. Stable schools are a kind of collegial sparring between producers with a focus on health. An analysis from the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture has shown that large herds are treated more than herds with fewer cows and that high yielding cows are treated more than moderate yielding cows. The goal of the initiative is that participants in the stable schools learn from managers of herds with low medication use.



Links below to English-language websites

The successful development in recent years in production and sales of organic products is to a large degree based on a consistent and fruitful co-operation between the many specialised organisations and agencies within Danish organic production and manufacturing. Below you will find organizations central to the development of organic farming in Denmark.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

  • Governmental organisations
  • Non-Governmental Organisations
  • Research and Advisory Service

Governmental organizations

The Organic Foods Council
Appointed in 1987. The aim of the Council is to encourage, monitor and assess the opportunities to develop Danish organic food production, to assess the current advisory and research work, to formulate proposals for additional activities and to comment on standards for the control of production, marketing, storage, transport, labeling, distribution and retailing of organic goods.

The Danish Food Industry Agency
The Danish Food Industry Agency supports development and production in the entire food industry and contributes to the formation of policies of The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. The main objective of The Danish Food Industry Agency (FødevareErhverv) is to carry out the industrial policy of the ministry. The agency support development and production in the food industry in order to promote the sale of healthy and secure food and boost the competitiveness of the food industry while making sure that due consideration to the environment is shown in the production of food. Administers EU market schemes on farm products, fruit and horticultural products in addition to fish produce. Deals within organic agriculture with national strategy issues, product development issues, and equivalence agreements and pending negotiations with foreign certification bodies, Action Plans on organic farming and EU-related issues.

Danish Plant Directorate
Is part of the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. The assignments of the Danish Plant Directorate cover legislation on seeds, feeding stuffs, Plants, potatoes, fruit and vegetables, use of fertilizers and the establishment of vegetation cover, EU agricultural schemes and organic farming. The Danish Plant

Directorate lays down regulations, performs administrative functions, carries out inspections, e.g. on organic farms, prepares legislation, provides service to the authorities and prepares policies. It has several offices across Denmark. The inspections on organic farms take place when crops are still in the fields so that the inspectors can verify that everything is up to standard.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration are responsible for food safety and health from farm to fork.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is part of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. Administration, development, co-ordination and the formation of rules and regulations take place in the head office of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration in Copenhagen. Food control and veterinary inspection are handled by two regional veterinary and food administration centers. The Food Administration accredits and checks the processing and trading of organic food products. DVFA has approximately 1870 employees.

Statistics Denmark
Statistics Denmark is the Danish central authority for collection, compilation and publication of statistics on social conditions. Statistics Denmark will provide comprehensive and impartial statistics and is independent of political and economic interests. Main tasks are to collect, compile and publish statistical information on social conditions that contribute to the international statistical cooperation and to perform statistical tasks for private and public clients. Statistics Denmark has about 550 employees. In 2010, Statistics Denmark's total budget is approx. 385 million. DKK. Statistics bank contains detailed official statistics, which describes the Danish society. There are special sections on organic food production, located under the folder "Agriculture and fisheries". It is free to use, and data can be saved in several file formats and presented as diagrams or maps. Every year Statistics Denmark publishes a Statistical Yearbook, containing facts on organic farming. The English version of the yearbook is not printed and can therefore only be found on Statistics Denmark's website. The first edition of the Statistical Yearbook dates back to 1896.

Non-Governmental organizations

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council
The Danish Agriculture & Food Council is performing common tasks and business interests of farmers and food businesses. The Danish Agriculture & Food Council is the result of a merger of five organizations: Danish Agriculture, the Danish Bacon and Meat Council, the Danish Agricultural Council, the Danish Dairy Board and Danish Pig Production in 2009. A special section dealing with organic farmers' interests. The vision for the organization is "We help to create growth in balance."

Organic Denmark
Organic Denmark organizes organic farmers, businesses and consumers. Its aim is to strengthen and develop the organic food production. The association was formed in 2002 through the merger of the various organic organizations. The association had in 2011 4600 members. The association publishes a biweekly newspaper. Organic Denmark disseminates information on organic farming and its products. The association developed in 2005 its own advisory service for organic farmers.

Society for Biodynamic Farming
The association aims to contribute to the development of biodynamic farming in Denmark by providing information on background and practice of the biodynamic cultivation methods. The association, formed in 1936, publishes the magazine Biodynamic Farming. The biodynamic rules follow Rudolf Steiner's teachings and are founded on a spiritual vision of the living forces of nature, agriculture, nutrition, and people.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Danish Association for Practical Ecology
The association promotes organic farming and lifestyle. The association publishes the journal Practical Ecology 6 times a year with articles with practical advice on how to grow your garden organically and a sustainable lifestyle. Today the association has approx. 3100 members and was founded in 1988. The Organic Garden - Centre for practical ecology - is a garden landscaped with various theme-gardens. The garden is located on land which is provided by Odder Municipality. It has existed since 1991 and has been open to visitors since 1994. The garden was in 1998 transformed into an independent institution.

Founded in 1994, with the objective to establish a foundation for information, exchange of experience and dialogue about initiatives in promoting a sustainable development in Denmark. This is done by informing about meetings, courses etc., and by establishing connections between projects and people. The Network publishes the newsletter Eco-net Newsletter in Denmark.

Research and Advisory Service

The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture
The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture has extensive experience and expertise in advising farmers, developing advisory tools, and conducting development projects, and it is in close cooperation with advisory service centers in other countries. Research Centre for Agriculture has a Department of Organic Farming. The department acts as knowledge bank and supply local advisors with the latest information. We bridge the gap between agricultural research, advisory services of the local advisory centers and farmers. A Special Committee on Organic Farming representing organic farmers nationally vouches for the adaptability and quality in the advisory service. The author of this article is employed in the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture. The Knowledge Centre for Agriculture runs Denmark's biggest website providing more than 100,000 articles written on agricultural practice.

International Centre for Research in Organic Food and Farming was founded in 2008. The center is an expansion of the former Centre for Organic Farming, DARCOF, which was established in 1996. ICROFS is a "center without walls" where scientists remain in their own environments, but work across institutions. ICROFS summarizes and disseminates scientific information across traditional boundaries and disciplines.
ICROFS run Organic Eprints, which is an open online archive for research in organic agriculture.

Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at Aarhus University
Until the first January 2007 the faculty was a government research institute under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. At the turn of 2007 the research institute, now the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, became a part of Aarhus University. The faculty offers a range of courses. The Faculty is spread over the country with centers in Foulum, Flakkebjerg, Bygholm, Aarslev and Sorgenfri. Furthermore it runs 4 research stations/farms. There are approximately 950 employees.

The Faculty of Food, Veterinary Medicine and Natural Resources at the University of Copenhagen
The Faculty of Food, Veterinary Medicine and Natural Resources - colloquially simply Faculty of Life Sciences or Life - is a faculty at University of Copenhagen. Science has 1800 employees and 3500 students. Before the first January 2007 it was an independent university under the name The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, established in 1856 as a continuation and expansion of the Veterinary School which was established in 1773 as one of Europe's first. The faculty covers university research and education throughout the chain from farm to table-to-health-and welfare. The faculty also includes The Food Economics Institute, established in 2004. The Institute aims to generate knowledge about economic conditions in the food area and its adjoining areas and disseminate this knowledge to benefit the community, consumers and trade. The Institute also deals with analysis of organic food.

Kaloe Organic Agricultural College
Denmark has the oldest organic agricultural college in Europe, Kaloe Organic Agricultural College. 1. March 2003 Kaloe Agricultural College merged with The Organic Agricultural College. The school's mission is to provide organic agriculture, training and consultancy.


The previous government adopted in February 2011 an Organic Vision. According to the newly appointed Minster of Agriculture Mrs. Mette Gjerskov the Vision was a start but far from enough. In November 2011 she presented her Organic plan as part of the government's green transformation policy. Three areas are identified in relation to creating increased demand, more innovation and increased conversion of land, namely "The government must lead the way," "Partnerships and organic innovation" and "Effective use of organic financial support".

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

Consumers, politicians, companies and farmers are all looking for ways to secure a sustainable development in Denmark. Organic farming is playing a vital role in this context. The challenge is to:

  • Maintain the integrity and the quality of the organic products
  • Develop organic farming further
  • Inform the consumers about organic products
  • Get the political establishment to maintain focus on organic farming as an effective environmental tool and not just a market opportunity
  • Get conventional processors involved in the processing and promotion of organic products both home and abroad

There is impatience in the organic sector to continue the positive development

In an article journalist Per Henrik Hansen writes: "Over the last 30 years, approx. seven per cent of the agricultural land has been converted. If the development continues at the same pace, it will take another 398 years before all Danish agricultural land is organic. Perhaps a bit harsh test of patience."

Organic Denmark expects an annual growth in sales of organic products in Denmark of 12-18 per cent over the next three years.

The Danish retail chain Coop has announced that they aim for an organic share of 10 percent over the next five years, representing an increase of 1 billion DKK or increased sales of 200 million DKK annually over the next 5 years.

The latest food market trends in Denmark have, to a great extent, moved the focus from consumption towards more value-based purchasing; moving from quantity of food towards the concept of food as a healthy and sustainable product. Many consumers couple their demand for organic foods with a fundamental confidence in organic producers and global responsibility.

Photo: Tomas Fibiger Nørfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre

In May 2011 Niels Jorgen Pedersen, president of The Danish Agriculture & Food Council was quoted in the Danish newspaper, Borsen: "Organics is in many ways far beyond niche stage. Also because organics today stand for values​​, which appeals to many consumers. So with the prospect of continued growth organics is to play a significant role in the future of Danish agricultural production.”



This article is written by Information Officer Tomas Fibiger Norfelt, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, National Centre, e-mail

He has expert knowledge of institutions, trends and facts of organics in Denmark. Has worked since 2001 in the Department for Organic Farming at The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture and before that for 3 years at Organic Denmark as Information Officer. He is Master of Arts and Media.

Sidst bekræftet: 12-07-2011 Oprettet: 12-07-2011 Revideret: 12-07-2011


Tomas Brødsgaard Fibiger Nørfelt

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