Successful chefs make good ambassadors

The Danes have been very successful in their focus on organic food. Now some Norwegian eco-enthusiasts are going to Copenhagen to learn and be inspired.

At the end of April, 23 Norwegians were on just such a tour to Copenhagen, returning home with some useful advice about which way they should go next and loads of inspiration.

“Because it’s the best”

The trip was the brainchild of Varehandelens Økologigruppe led by their secretariat chair Åshild Longva of Nofima Mat. The participants represented organic food producers, suppliers and organisations, as well as the supermarket chains and resource apparatus.

“If you ask people in Copenhagen why people eat organic food, you’re likely to get the answer: Because it’s the best. Best for the environment, for the animals, for health and not least for quality and taste. Well known Danish chefs and food retailers have successfully used variations on the message: We have organic food because we have the best. And having the best seems to have been fortunate for all of them, from Michelin starred restaurants to delicatessens and cut price shops,” explains Marcelle Askew, general manager of the Norwegian organisation Eco Commerce.

The Danish eco-enthusiasts have really succeeded in reaching people with their message, because in terms of consumption per person, the Danes eat the most organic food in the world.

“TV chefs and legendary stores like Slagteren at Kultorvet ensure that organic food is associated with exceptional quality and taste. High end supermarket chains like Irma are able to build a stronger brand because they offer quality organic products in close cooperation with among others Thise dairies. However in money terms it is the low price chain Døgn Netto that has the highest turnover. Together these players have built a good market for skilled business people who focus on organic goods,” continues Askew.

An important lesson to bring home

As well as being enthused by the large organic range in all kinds of shops, the members of the Norwegian group were able to begin a dialogue with successful players in Denmark.

According to secretariat chair Åshild Longva, the three most important criteria for the Danish success are:

1. Very positive coverage of good taste with several of Denmark’s best chefs acting as ambassadors. The chefs convey their message with enthusiasm and inspiration.

2. Availability in the shops.

3. The Danes believe strongly that organic is best in a lot of areas (taste, quality, health, no additives, no simple solutions, animal welfare and the environment).

Both Longva and Askew are convinced that sales of organic food in Norway can be substantially increased. “But we must get the good chefs to help us. We need credible opinion setters and clear answers to why consumers should buy organic, based on the benefits that the consumers themselves think are the most important,” points out Askew.

Strike while the iron is hot

The lessons learned on the trip have already resulted in some actual activities intended to create a strong, active and useful network of organic food players.

“There is a widespread desire for a rather informal network aimed at being an active arena for professional exchange, inspiration and networking. The idea is to give those in the market better access to the information, inspiration and people they need to succeed in selling more and more organic products,” says Askew.

And she was no sooner back from the Copenhagen trip than she had created the LinkedIn group ØKNING, an inspiration and network group for the organic industry, and started planning a mini conference called “Vil du ha det beste, så velger du økologisk” (If you want the best, choose organic).

This will be held on 20 May at Coop Norge in central Oslo from 15.00 to 18.00. See link for registration.

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