The recent Organic Forum heard how in Denmark the organic sector has been able to grow to the extent that organic food now represents 13.3% of total food sales compared to 1.5% in the UK.
The key to this success has been largely down to a single organisation representing the whole sector – Organic Denmark. It has a widely recognised logo as well as having a well-developed action plan for the sector.
The organisation Organic Denmark has more than 200 members and is able to represent the sector and is also responsible for certification which is actually funded by the Government. Perhaps surprisingly, Danish organic farmers receive some of the lowest conversion payments in the EU. However, Government support for the sector in terms of promotion and the requirement for public institutions to have an organic offering is notable.
The growth of the sector over the last 15 years has also been attributed to building bridges with the food sector and especially the food service sector, and at the same time not upsetting conventional farmers who may one day convert.
The contrast with the UK organic sector could hardly be starker. With a plethora of certification bodies and a poorly funded Organic Trade Board unable to attract support from major retailers of some of the processors. Unlike Scotland, England has been slow to develop an action plan for the organic sector.
Against this background it is perhaps surprising that the UK organic sector has continued to grow over the last 5 years with sales up 6% in 2017 and opportunities continue to arise for businesses looking to convert.
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