With a growth of three per cent in 2022, exports remain a driving force for domestic production of organic foods, which are mainly sold in Denmark’s neighbouring markets.
According to the new annual report from Statistics Denmark, Denmark’s exports of organic food and beverages increased by three per cent in 2022 compared to the previous year. This secured export earnings of DKK 3.4 billion for Denmark.
This is DKK 109 million more than in 2021, when exports grew by a whopping 17 per cent. Dennis Hvam, international market director at Organic Denmark, is pleased that organic products are continuing to grow in an otherwise uncertain international market.
“We’re happy to see exports rise in 2022, a year marked by the war in Ukraine and rising inflation, which otherwise caused stagnation in the organic domestic market, even after we emerged from the Covid pandemic. This confirms to us that Danish organic products have a strong position abroad. Given that we can achieve growth in exports in such challenging times, I’m extremely positive about the future of organics,” says Dennis Hvam.
He believes that the sales increase in foreign markets demonstrates that the export of organic foods has become an important driving force for Denmark’s organic food production and the political goal of doubling organic sales from 2020 to 2030.
Expectations for more growth
Based on the strong innovative capacity of Danish food producers and the ongoing dialogues and export activities Organic Denmark has planned for 2024, Dennis Hvam expects exports to keep increasing in the coming years.
“We can see from the figures for organic sales in Denmark that things are gradually moving in the right direction. And what we hear from people both domestically and internationally is that organics are the future, and that we’ll likely return to high growth rates in exports,” he says.
Mette Jasper Gammicchia, head of the Department of Market and Nutrition at the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, makes the same assessment. In a press release, she highlights the fact that the growth in exports has happened even though consumers in Danish export markets have also been pressured by inflation and high prices, reducing their disposable income for food:
“It is gratifying that in a market characterised by a strong focus on prices, there is still room for growth in Danish organic exports.”
Growth in neighbouring markets
Germany remains Denmark’s most important export market, followed by Sweden. Exports to both countries increased by six per cent in 2022. This means that Germany accounts for 51 per cent of Denmark’s organic exports, while Sweden represents 12 per cent.
However, exports are also growing in other markets, and despite some of the progress being due to price increases following unusually high inflation rates, organic producers can celebrate progress in the important Chinese market, traditionally a major consumer of Danish dairy products.
After a decline in organic exports to China from 2020 to 2021, the new figures from Statistics Denmark show that the Chinese market is on the rise again. Turnover has increased from DKK 141 million in 2021 to DKK 170 million in 2022, an increase of 21 per cent.
Meat exports are growing
The increase in exports is particularly noticeable in major product groups such as meat and meat products (+16 per cent) as well as fruits and vegetables, where organics traditionally perform well. There’s also growth in exports of organic beverages, especially plant-based drinks, which have more than doubled.
Despite the positive trend, Dennis Hvam warns against complacency.
“It’s important that we continue the targeted export work that businesses and Organic Denmark have been doing for many years. It’s also important that we hold politicians accountable for their goal of doubling sales. Many are noticing our success. If we become complacent, we risk that others step in to fill the gaps in the market,” says Dennis Hvam, who is already focusing on Denmark’s next major export push.
This will take place in February when, along with around 30 Danish companies, he heads to Nuremberg, where Organic Denmark and Bio Aus Dänemark will man the joint Danish stand at BioFach.
This is the world’s largest trade fair for organic food, where producers will attempt to further boost exports in what remains a rather unpredictable global market.