History of Danish organics

History of Danish organics

1. September 2016 af: Anders Corydon Frederiksen

The history of Danish organics starts in the early 1960s where the organic method of cultivation develops from a scientific branch to todays explosive growth in the sale of organic products. 

The organic method of cultivation - without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides - is more than just a return to traditional farming methods, as it is based on the biological study of organic systems.

In an agricultural context, organic methods have been tested experimentally since the early 20th century. However, it was not until the early 1960s that organics started to develop from being a scientific branch to occupying an important place in the public debate.

The 1980s - organic foods is trustworthy products

In 1982, the first organic carrots were sold in Danish grocery stores. It was only a small scale production, and consumer interest in the new phenomenon was not overwhelming. Even though legislation regulating organic production was not passed until 1987, the Danish state has strongly supported organic agriculture - in part by earmarking funds in the state budget for marketing and supporting the transformation to organic farming. Also, the implementation of the red "Ø" label that shows that a product is state-certified organic, has played a significant role in establishing an organic awareness among Danish consumers.

The 1990s - a new focus on organic foods

This awareness grew throughout the 1990s. At the beginning of 1993, the demand for organic products was still so limited that only half of the organic milk produced could be sold as organic. But when SuperBrugsen, of the biggest Danish supermarket chain, introduced massive discounts and widespread marketing efforts in 1993, the situation has changed completely.

As a reaction to SuperBrugsen's actions, other chains followed suit with similar sales initiatives, resulting in an explosive growth in sales; within a year, the market situation of organic foods has undergone a complete turnaround. Now there was suddenly a lack of organic products.After increasing throughout the 1990s, the development of organic market share stagnated in 1999, but exploded once again beginning in 2005.


Over the last years, all grocery chains have introduced more organic products in their product range. The larger product ranges and consumers' increasing interest in quality foods are considered contributing factors in the explosive growth in the sale of organic products.

In spite of the financial crisis and the slowdown in the consumption in general, the organic market share has increased from 3.5% in 2009 to 8.4% in 2015, and Organic Denmark expects that the organic market share will continue to increase.


2015: With a market share of 8.4%, Denmark holds the position as the world leading, organic nation. Reasons for this development are among others that the grocery sector has incorporated more organic products into its selection of products as well as an increasing interest among the Danish consumers in more animal welfare and clean, healthy food of high quality.

2013: Organic turnover for Danish catering operations is approaching DKK 1 billion. Organic sales have grown from around DKK 456 million in 2009 to around DKK 918 million in 2012, doubling in three years.

2012: The Danish government enacts a plans for 60% organic food in public kitchens and for doubling the organically farmed area in Denmark to 15% by 2020.

2010: The "New Nordic Cuisine" is the theme for the Nordic stand at BioFach 2010 and Danish exhibitors present a large variety of exciting organic food of the highest quality.

2009: Denmark becomes "Country of the year" at BioFach. 40 Danish exhibitors are represented at the Danish stand.

2008: Denmark named "Organic Country of the Year" at the world's biggest organic trade fair BioFach in 2009.

2007: Sales of organic products increase by 25% compared to the previous year.

2002: A number of organic trade associations merge and establish the Danish Association of Organic Farming, the parent association of Organic Denmark.

1995: The Danish government develops the first of two action plans to further the organic food production in Denmark.

1993: The Danish supermarket chain SuperBrugsen holds an "Organic Week" with massive discounts and wide scale marketing efforts. Other supermarket chains follow suit, resulting in an explosive increase in organic sales.

1992: The demand for organic products is still limited. Only half of the organic milk that is produced is sold as organic.

1987: The Danish Parliament passes the first Danish act on organic agricultural production. The Danish "Ø-label", which guarantees that the product is government certified organic, is launched.

1982: The first organic carrots are sold in grocery stores. The amount produced is small. Likewise, consumer interest is low. 1981: A number of farmers establish the first organic association in Denmark. The association draws up the first Danish code of practice for organic production.

1975-1980: A small number of Danish farmers start systematically cultivating produce without chemical fertilisers and pesticides. 1962: Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" draws attention to the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment.