Nine organic food producers from Denmark sowed the seeds for future exports at a meeting with Ekoplaza, the largest organic supermarket chain in the Netherlands.
It can be difficult to know exactly how to penetrate foreign markets as an organic food exporter. However, Dutch organic wholesaler Udea, which co-owns the Netherlands’ largest organic supermarket chain Ekoplaza, looks like a good entry point to the Dutch market.
This was the conclusion of many of the ten Danish companies which Organic Denmark took to Amsterdam last week, where they were given the chance to present their products to the procurement manager and a category manager from Udea.
The day started in a conference room at the hotel, where the participants were given a brief presentation of the Dutch sales channels for organic food and briefed on the current situation in a market that bears many similarities to the Danish market.
However, the Dutch market is not nearly as developed as the Danish market, and the organic market share of 3.3% is only about a quarter of the organic market share in Denmark. In other words, the Dutch market holds huge growth potential according to Organic Denmark.
It went really well
“The criterion for success is that everyone comes away with some positive feedback or a contact. It must be a positive experience, and people must feel that something could come of it,” said Pernille Bundgård, International Market Director at Organic Denmark, before departing for the Dutch capital, and it was therefore an extremely satisfied but somewhat tired export manager who settled into her seat on a flight bound for Billund shortly before midnight after a long but rewarding day in Amsterdam.
“It went really well. Both the companies and Udea got what they came for,” says Pernille Bundgård, who had invited Peter Rasmussen, a market consultant, with her to the Netherlands, where most of the morning was spent visiting stores based on the two different store concepts which Udea runs.
“They spent the time preparing for the afternoon speed dating session by taking a close look at their stores in terms of assortment and price points, so they were well prepared for the meeting with Udea later in the day,” says Peter Rasmussen.
Good entry point to the Netherlands
According to Pernille Bundgård, for the individual company speed dating is primarily about establishing a mutual interest in arranging another meeting with the potential customer. Perhaps in connection with an upcoming trade fair or a meeting at the customer’s premises, where there is time to talk to the category manager and take the next step towards the first order.
“What we do on a trip like this one to the Netherlands is important for the chain to be able to understand us and for us to understand the chain,” says Pernille Bundgård, who sees Udea as a good entry point into the Dutch market – both retail and foodservice – as they deliver to the whole country, and she felt the dialogue between their Dutch hosts and the Danish producers was good.
However, according to Peter Rasmussen, the networking opportunities are also very valuable for the companies, as the participants comprised a broad mix of experienced exporters such as DAVA Foods, Bangs and companies that are new or very young on the export scene.
First step for Banana Cph
The Copenhagen-based start-up Banana Cph belongs to the latter category, and the visit to Amsterdam was its first attempt to open doors to customers abroad. Thomas Wibe Barton is COO of the Copenhagen start-up, and he was very happy with the outcome.
“The Netherlands is a super-exciting market which in many ways resembles the market here in Denmark, and we have now sown the first seeds,” he said after returning to Copenhagen, where Banana Cph produces vegan cakes, ice cream and confectionery which all contain upcycled bananas that are either too ripe or too small for the retail sector, and thus risk ending up as food waste.
“We had our entire product range with us, and it seemed to go down well with the people from Udea,” says Thomas Wibe Barton, who in particular sees exciting potential in Udea’s wholesale sales to the Dutch foodservice market.
Up to them to keep the ball rolling
Each company was given a 15-minute ‘date’ to ‘sell’ their products, and Peter Rasmussen is convinced that Danish producers enjoy an advantage in representing a country which, for many years, has been one of the world’s leading organic nations.
“In the Netherlands, as in many other markets, people are very aware of what we have achieved with organic farming in Denmark, and now that the connection has been made, it’s up to the individual company to keep the ball rolling,” he says.
Danish companies that visited the Netherlands
- Raw Culture
- DAVA Foods
- LA international
- Dencon Foods
- Rundt om Vin
- Banana CPH