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Karsten Nielsen from Denmark A/S

"Not much has changed for 'unfair' Danish fund allocation"

Earlier in September of this year, Karsten Nielsen from Denmark A/S made a call to his peers in the industry via LinkedIn, to band together to help formulate an open letter to Danish politician Esben Lunde Larsen, after he felt there was a need to create more debate on the future of small and medium-sized Danish companies for retail and food service product exports, along with a fairer distribution of government support.

Unfortunately, several months later, Nielsen said that; "Regrettably, not much has changed in the meantime. There have only been small changes, giving slightly more funds in 2017 to other organisations, including Food From Denmark. I think that it is only because they felt they had no other choice and I think that they thought if they gave us a small piece of the pie that we would keep quiet. It hasn't worked and we have no intention of stopping. This situation is so crazy, that in a country like Denmark that the allocation of public funding can be shared only in a small circle of friends."

In a response to Nielsen's letter, Esben Lunde Larsen replied;
"I have been working to increase both conventional and organic food exports in the coming years. However, the special effort being made for organic exports has been a political priority for both the previous and the current government. Danish organic farming is a strong brand in export markets, and it is expected that the demand for Danish organic products will continue to rise. Therefore, we have set aside funds in the new Food and agricultural package, to develop a competitive organic export sector, to be administered by Foundation for Organic Agriculture,"

Larsen said that one of the reasons that the board members are active in businesses within the industry is to add extra value, by adding professional knowledge regarding funds to the Board. Members for the Fund for Organic Agricultural Board, are appointed by the environmental and Food Minister, precisely due to their industry-specific knowledge in organic farming. He said that he feels this puts them in a stronger position to the defend the general trade interests that they have been appointed to perform when reviewing fund applications for organisations.

Nielsen said that, under the current situation, he had to forward his application and ideas to his two largest competitors, who have turned down 90% of his applications. "We submitted 3 applications in 2016, all of which were turned down. In 2017 one application was approved. The reason behind my submission were more for documentation than anything else, since all of the funding ends up in the hands of the people making the decision anyway. Many companies don't even bother applying because they know that the answer will be a 'no'."

"The Danish “Rigsrevisionen” is investigating the situation and have confirmed that changes are needed. New regulation is expected in 2017, but it seems as if the organisations involved are still busy giving away public money to their own organisations, so it seems like it is 'business as usual'." Nielsen continued.

"Take ANUGA 2017 as an example, Denmark will have 3 pavilions for organic which are not coordinated, with only 1 to 2 official pavilions for conventional producers. How can this be justified when organic products still make up under 2% of exports, while the traditional goods have generated 5,5 million (98%) and aren't given the tools to coordinate their own promotion?" concluded Nielsen.

For more information:
Karsten Nielsen
Food from Denmark A/S
Tel: +45 87526080
Fax: +45 87526081
Email: [email protected]