Karsten Nielsen from Denmark A/S has made a call to his peers in the industry via LinkedIn, to band together to help formulate an open letter to Danish politician Esben Lunde Larsen, after he felt there was a need to create more debate on the future of small and medium-sized Danish companies for retail and food service product exports, along with fairer distribution of government support. The letter is expected to be sent to Larsen next week.

Nielsen pointed out that Denmark provides so much support to the organic sector, often, it seems, forgetting about supporting traditional growers, despite organics only representing 1.8% of exports. In 2016, Agriculture and Food and Organic Denmark was allocated Kr. 10.6 million out of a total pool of Kr. 10.8 million, while other applicants, including Food from Denmark, were refused their projects.

Below are a few excerpts from the letter to Larsen from Nielsen, which highlight some of the main issues;

“Our clear position is, unfortunately, that Danish efforts to promote exports is uncoordinated and heavily dependent on grants. Grants can be very effective, especially for small businesses, but they need to be distributed in a fair manner that serves the best interests of Denmark and not just the interests of a few individual organisations.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial to run a common thread through Denmark's marketing activities to promote food exports? Other European countries seem to coordinate the promotion of their exports at fairs with the same design and a common marketing strategy. In Denmark, it seems that a few interest groups put together their own strategy based on their own desires and not on the individual companies' needs. No coordination across the board and all in it for themselves.

Denmark needs a new direction and some new rules about Danish food exports and subsidies. It shouldn’t be possible that Agriculture and Food and Organic Denmark makes the strategies for export and then sees to getting the resources for themselves through the influence of their eight board members. One idea could be to provide support funds directly to the individual company and then let the company decide itself where to invest money. Another idea might be to include some of the professional companies who deal in exports and let them help decide how grant funds will be distributed, based on the principle that corporate interests are being served and not personal ones.”

Please click here to access the full open letter (in Danish) from Karsten Nielsen to Esben Lunde Larson.