Henrik Rendbøll, director of Møllerup Brands, in the hemp fields on historic Møllerup Estate in Djursland, where Danish Food Cluster will hold A Great Day for Food Innovation this year.
Grow your food business – and keep your conscience clear
Sustainable innovation is a strong value proposition, say three of the panellists who will lead the discussion at A Great Day for Food Innovation 2019.
Sustainability has moved way beyond being an optional nice-to-have to become a driving must for companies working in the food industry, where today many businesses have first-hand experience of how sustainable innovation has given them the edge on competition.
Later this month, there will be an outstanding opportunity to hear some of those inspiring tales when Danish Food Cluster opens the doors to Great Day for Food Innovation 2019. Three panel discussions will centre on businesses that are sustainable by birth or sustainable by choice and explore expert predictions for a sustainable future.
Healthier soil with nutritious hemp
The fitting location for the event is fitting: Møllerup Estate – Scandinavia’s biggest producer of hemp. This fast-growing crop is fullof nutritious potential for consumers and an efficient means to good soil health on organic as well as conventional farms.
In fact, the sustainable way of thinking is nothing new, says Henrik Rendbøll, director of Møllerup Brands, which manages the estate’s hemp business.
“On an estate like ours, it has always been important to preserve the soil and groundwater for the next generation by not using more chemicals than necessary. The UN sustainable development goals have renewed our focus on the whole cradle-to-cradle philosophy, where we really think about the production methods we use.”
“With hemp, we have a crop that is both sustainable for farmers and close to consumers.”
Bent Hübertz, chief marketing officer at KLS PurePrint – a company that has driven electric company cars since 2010.
A sustainable kiss of life
Henrik will be among the panellists on the ‘Sustainable by birth’ panel at Great Day for Food Innovation. On the ‘Sustainable by choice’ panel, Bent Hübertz, chief marketing officer at KLS PurePrint will tell a rather different story – about how the switch to a sustainable mindset saved the business.
Bent explains how it all got started.
“Fifteen years ago, turnover in the whole graphic business was going down, so we had to make a decision about our strategy for survival. We decided to be the greenest printing house in the world,” he says.
“We went to an advertising bureau to talk about running a campaign, and they gave us an environmental report from the UN, which we read. That’s when we realised that, unless we made being green part of our DNA, it would all go wrong. So, we set to work.”
A long and challenging journey later, KLS PurePrint now runs a fully sustainable business that uses 100% biodegradable materials and has a wind turbine to cover electricity needs. The biggest achievement came in 2015, when KLS PurePrint was the second printing house in the world to become Cradle to Cradle Certified.
“This has given us 150 new customers over the last two or three years – a number of them in the food industry. Being sustainable is a really good business proposition for us and the key to our rapid growth,” Bent explains.
John Thøgersen, professor of economic psychology at Aarhus University and initiator of the global Virtual Community on Sustainability and Consumption, which promotes research to help reduce the tension between sustainability and consumption.
Trustworthy labels make life easier
John Thøgersen, professor of economic psychology at Aarhus University and ‘Future sustainability’ panellist, can provide the consumer perspective on why sustainable products enjoy increasing success. He highlights two main factors: recognisable labels that make it easy for consumers to choose products that reflect their values and agenda-setting by the media.
John gives the Danish organic label – the red Ø – as an example.
“When people have confidence in a label, it becomes an asset, because people can make their purchasing decisions much faster. Sustainability is complex and knowledge-heavy. So trustworthy labelling that makes life easy for consumers is important to developing a market.”
A close eye on the media agenda
Media coverage is critical to directing consumer attention to the cause, John adds.
“Companies need to be aware of what the media draws attention to. Right now, it’s no coincidence that climate takes up a lot of space, because alarm bells are ringing at full volume. My expectation is that sustainability will stay on the media agenda for some time – and that creates opportunities for companies.”
In the future, a Danish climate label on consumer food products could have the same impact as the organic Ø. Although a somewhat controversial topic at the moment, John believes this would be a valuable step forward – once agreement can be reached.
“If it is possible to agree on a sensible way of doing it, we should seize the day. Companies can then use the tailwind that the media provides.”
Register to join the discussion
To join the discussion about the state of sustainability in the food industry and how your business can benefit, join Danish Food Cluster for A Great Day for Food Innovation on 21 March 2019.
Free of charge for Danish Food Cluster members.