Denmark has the highest market shares for organic food in the world (13%). And for many basic foods like eggs, milk, flour and many vegetables and fruits the organic market share is 30-50%. Meals in schools, hospitals, government canteens and even military barracks are going organic and the capitol, Copenhagen is at 90%.


The organic farm area doubled since 2007 and the national goal is to double again by 2030. Organic policy is supported by most political parties in the Danish Parliament because organics delivers on farm incomes, climate, biodiversity and clean drinking water. None of these breakthroughs happened on their own.

Organic NGOs as change agents

By building capacity in market development, farm innovation, communications and policy advocacy, Organic Denmark became a change agent in the market, the media, in farming and in politics. This is a missing piece in many nations where government and organic processors have not invested in their organic sector organizations.

Collaboration with allied groups –consumers, environment, farming—has also been key. A strong feature is Organic Denmark’s partnerships with supermarket chains, helping them expand organic product offers and communicate “the why” of organics. More than any other factor this has made organics more available, affordable and, not least, meaningful for consumers

Organic Policies work!

Organic Action Plans and policy drive organic innovation, farm conversion and market development, while organic lobbying ensures financing. There is now a wealth of tested national policy options as inspiration for other nations.

“Push” policies upscale organic farming: organic conversion support, free certification and “conversion checks (advice)” and investments in innovation and farmer-to-farmer learning. “Pull” policies grow market: support for supply chain collaboration, work with retail, consumer campaigns and organic public procurement, backed by sector collaboration with wholesalers, cities and kitchen trade unions. Denmark’s organic cuisine label for 30, 60, and 90% organic has inspired labels in other nations, most recently Germany last year. Competition in policy and in the market is increasing. The organic sector –also in Denmark—must be on the offensive if policy makers, allies and retailers are to keep their focus on growing organics. We can make organics for all!

Paul Holmbeck is former CEO in Organic Denmark. Today Paul advises governments, business and NGOs around the world in organic policy and market development

Author: Paul Holmbeck, IFOAM Organics International World Board member

Published in the BIOFACH & VIVANESS 2024 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition.

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