Food from Denmark CEO, Karsten Nielson:
"Nonsense, being forced to send ideas to competitors"
Karsten Nielson, CEO of Food from Denmark is frustrated. Frustrated about what he believes to be an unbalanced distribution of government subsidies to what he calls a ‘friend’s club’.
“I have worked very hard to build a business that can work without grant funds. However, it is almost impossible to remain competitive when my competitors, who are also board members of the deciding committee, are gathering up subsidies for themselves so they are able to export at such low prices that there is no way for private companies to compete,” Nielson lamented.
As previously reported in Freshplaza, back in 2016, there has been some controversy about the fact that the largest benefactors of the subsidies are for organic companies whose senior management also happen to be members of the board who allocate government funds throughout the industry.
The board of The Foundation for Organic Agriculture (FØL), has been appointed by the Minister of Food to make decisions on behalf of Denmark's business interests. The Fund Management Board also decides which organizations are to receive grant funds.
“The Foundation for Organic Agriculture (FØL), which grants organic export promotion, is a direct stop for growth in Denmark - it helps to put free competition out of power. Most of the board knows nothing about strategic export promotion, yet they allocate millions for their own organizations with the minister's acceptance. After a recent enquiry, the Consumer Council came to the conclusion that it is wrong to have decisions made by people who also have a vested interest in the outcome of the decision, but as of yet, nothing has changed,” said Nielson.
“It is a tricky situation, and many Danish companies are hesitant to ‘bite the hand that feeds them’ by speaking out. However, if no one speaks out against a faulty system, we have already lost the fight. It’s almost unreal that, in 2017, you should be required to send your most creative ideas and budgets, through to your largest competitors. This set up halts growth and private corporate initiative.”
To illustrate the problem, Nielson said that we should look at recent grant of 8 million (which was the total budget), all of the money was allocated to L & F and Økologisk Landsforening, two organisations where their employees make up 8 out of the 12 board members.
“We need to change the entire system when it comes to the promotion of exports; by creating new frameworks and visions for Danish food products, within retail, food service and industry. Most importantly, the friend club needs to disappear and decisions should be made politically, with strategy and reason. Together, we can bring Danish food into the international superlative."
For more information:
Food from Denmark A/S
Tel: +45 87526080
Fax: +45 87526081
Publication date: 11/7/2017
Author: Heather Wicks
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