The air was buzzing of optimism and sustainability at last week’s food industry gathering. But Denmark has a long way to go: More responsibility for industry and a cry for transparency in the value chain.
Sustainability is the new black.
It has filled the food industry media these past few weeks. It filled the room at Danish Food Clusters yearly conference, A Great Day for Food Innovation, Thursday last week. And it diffidently filled the stage where the greatest greenest gathering was presenting. Six Danish companies, all have taken in the sustainable mindset either from birth or later on in the company-life.
But has the food industry started celebrating too soon?
“Denmark has a decent image. In Europe there is a lot to do, but all countries think they are the best in class. If we want to have a great image. There is still much more work to do,” said John Thøgersen, professor at Aarhus University, and speaker at the conference.
A green eating population is not enough, so the industry needs to step up:
“In the food behavior of the general public in Denmark we see gradual changes. However, dietary changes from consumers will by far not be sufficient in reaching the 2050 GHG reductions needed and food proteins need focus due to malnutrition and the growing group of old consumers. The food industry in Denmark is well on track to make a positive contribution towards a more sustainable food production. However, transitions will take time and the food industry needs to keep on their current efforts. There is a need for a better, facts-based and continuing dialogue between the food sector and consumers,” said Wender Bredie, Professor at University of Copenhagen in his presentation.
Winner of the Food Innovator Award, Gitte Haar from KLS Pureprint, agrees with that:
“We are putting too much responsibility on the shoulders of the consumers.”
According to Gitte Haar, there is a cry for transparency in the entire industry – transparency that will help consumers make sustainable choices:
“There is not enough transparency for the consumers to make the right choices. There is no transparency in the value chain. The grazing cow pictured on the milk carton does not actually go on grass. We need to dare to create that transparency. Who dares to invite consumers out on a pig farm and chicken farm? Not many.”
Gitte Haar receiving the Food Innovator Award 2019 – a prize specially created for the winner by the artist Daniel van der Noon.
A sustainable business is thinking in the entire value chain, was a point made by Louise Rosenmeier from the world’s most sustainable company, Chr. Hansen:
“As a company we can’t do it alone. If we don’t partner up with suppliers and customers, we will not have a big impact,” said Louise Rosenmeier, Sustainability Business Partner, Chr. Hansen.
Peter Larsen Kaffe succeeds in doing so by supporting their coffee farmers:
“Assisting the farmers and the industry where we get our coffee from by education, new ways of doing business, direct trading and so on. For instance, if all coffee farmers get certified, this would improve the livelihood of all farmers,” said Lars Aaen Thøgersen, Director of Innovation and Experience, Peter Larsen Kaffe, Löfbergs Coffee Group.
In a room full of sustainability-optimism a dangerous question from the audience was:
Is sustainability for everyone?
“It is and it has to be for everyone. Reaching the 17 UN sustainable development goals it not just role of the state or the large corporates, but it’s for each company and person. And everyone has their own way of going about it,”said Louise Rosenmeier from Chr. Hansen.
You can’t be sustainable-superman and save the world
Are you a company, who is not born sustainable but has chosen to contribute to a more sustainable world, some great advice from the conference was:
- Find your passion– it makes it so much easier
- Start from where you are: You don’t have to save the world all alone. Figure out what is it your product can do and how can it contribute.
- Use the Sustainable Development Goals: Tie your sustainability effort to UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, companies as Chr. Hansen and Peter Larsen Kaffe and have had success in doing so.
It was a close-run at the Food Innovator Award 2019. A strong green field of smaller companies w all part of putting Denmark on the sustainable world-map. The winner has transformed KLS Pureprint from a dying food packaging company into leaders within the field.
An interesting profile has been added to Danish Food Cluster – a Robin Hood to the small and medium-sized companies in the board. The cluster’s chairman and deputy chairman remain.