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Organic for All: A Danish success story for organic

Organic for All: A Danish success story for organic

Across Europe, organic enjoys a high percentage of market share when compared to here in the UK.

In France, 12.6 billion euros is turned over each year, with 60% of consumers eating organic at least once a month1. Germany is even more ambitious, with a market value of over €15 billion in 20222.

Organic purchases are on the rise globally, with a focus on health and provenance becoming increasingly important for shoppers.  

 But for the highest market share globally, we turn to Denmark, for which in 2020, 14% of all food products sold in Denmark were certified organic3. So, what does Denmark do differently, and what can we, in the UK, learn? 


Organic has a place at the table 

The political agenda in Denmark has a strong focus towards green policies, in which organic has a clearly defined role. Denmark was the first country to establish state control of organic (with the forming of Organic Denmark), and introduce an organic label, which 98% of Danes recognise4. Ambitiously, Organic Denmark has been working towards their 30-30-30 strategy; they want 30% of land to be under organic cultivation by 2030, as well as owning 30% of the organic market.   

The Danish government have a long record of investment and innovation in organic, leading to the development of The Organic Action Plan5. Adopted in 2020, the plan sets out actionable strategies for the organic sector, from organic land conversion to food service, introducing the Organic Cuisine certification in 2009. Crucially, the plan draws significant state funding. 


The government has backed and funded the Organic Cuisine Label certification for private and public canteens since its inception. The mark is free and there is a 17M DKK (£2 million) fund to help transition canteens; a silver award is mandated for public canteens, which means 60% of all food served must be organic. With over 3200 canteens certified in 2022, spend in 2021 was estimated to account for 12.6% of the total sector spend6. Not only has the prevalence of organic in food service over time predisposed consumers to choose organic, but its success along with timely support for farmer conversion has also driven volumes, improving the economic viability of organic in a retail space where margin expectations can be modest. Mads Sejersen Vinther, Technical Political Chief Advisor of Organic Denmark, said during Soil Association Certification’s 2023 Organic Trade Conference, “foodservice changes perceptions on what people can use in their daily lives, in their kitchens, and so on.” 

The organic sector in Denmark is increasingly collaborative; industry partnerships and collaboration with retail supermarkets have been essential to expanding product assortments, positioning organics in stores, and communicating “the why” of organic to consumers. Denmark have been successful at leveraging EU promotions funding to drive consumer campaigns and to increase collaboration with organic processors, traders and retailers. The governments Organic Action Plan also includes funds for communication strategies; information campaigns and marketing plans, as well as export promotions.  


The organic stairway (the Danish consumer) 

Danish people are facing higher living costs and like other countries in Europe including the UK, shoppers are looking to make savings, with discounters increasing their market share. Danish discounters and organic go hand in hand, with over 50% of organic sales coming from the top three discounters7. This democratisation of organic is necessary for growth; Danes are economically being driven to discount supermarkets whilst simultaneously believing corporations must bear the brunt of system change8. By meeting them where they are, organic producers can increase their sales by ensuring the don’t miss those eco-minded consumers on lower incomes. 

 Image: Organic Denmark 


On average, 77% of Danes bought organic every single week in 20229 compared to the UK, where 50% of supermarket shoppers by organic every 12 weeks10. Danish consumers are driven by the same factors as seen across Europe and the UK; concerns with the environmental impact of their food, and diet, and shopping local, amongst others11. We know that organic answers these calls wherever the market, but in Denmark, shoppers are actively buying organic as a solution.  

Mads Sejersen Vinther understands the mechanism of Danish behaviour when purchasing organic. During the Organic Trade Conference he said of organic consumers, “when they start buying, they are buying potatoes, milk, etc. They go up the steps. But they are not steps. It’s sort of an escalator. When you start buying organic products, you will continue buying organic products. This makes organic consumers attractive. The most attractive are families with children because... they will always choose healthy and good foods, and organic is healthy and good food.”  


Organic for All - what can we learn in the UK? 

Breakdowns in supermarket categories revealed in Soil Association Certification’s 2024 Organic Market Report show how the UK organic market can adopt Denmark's 'organic staircase' model to reinforce customer loyalty to organic. 


But the UK’s organic sector has even more to learn from Denmark’s model; more support and intervention from government and policy makers, more collaboration across the sector, fairer farmgate prices for producers, more democratisation and less premium placement from retailers, more understanding and activity from consumers. Our Organic for All vision aims to address all of this and more to bring organic to the fore of the conversation, and make organic affordable, accessible and available to all. 

Download Soil Association Certification's 2024 Organic Market Report for all the latest organic market data and insights. You can also read more about the Danish organic market in the Organic Denmark Organic Market Report 2023.  



  1. Statista - Organic Food Market in France
  2. Statista - Revenues from organic foods in Germany from 2000-2023
  3. Organic Denmark - Facts & Figures about Danish organics
  4. Future Policy - Denmark’s Organic Action Plan
  5. Thematic Group on Strengthening the position of farmers in the Organic Food Supply Chain Organic policies in Denmark Case study
  6. Organic Denmark Market Report 2023
  7. Organic Denmark Market Report 2023
  8. Organic Denmark Market Report 2023
  9. Organic Denmark Market Report 2023
  10. NielsenIQ slides shared at the Soil Association Certification Organic Trade Conference in November 2023
  11. Organic Denmark Market Report 2023