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Safety has top priority

In times of corona, Danish consumers also feel an increased need for safety. This topic is also especially important to them when they buy and consume food, as a current study shows. They are also willing to change their behavior to protect the climate and the environment.

In the corona crisis, many people’s daily lives deviate from their former lives. They work from home offices with the kids at their feet and they don’t meet with friends or more distant family as often. According to Per Vesterbæk, head of analysis at the Danish Professional Agricultural & Food Association, the pandemic may also be affecting attitudes towards food and consumption habits. He and his team examined the consumer behavior of the Danes. “Presumably, we will continue to look for proven solutions that suit everyone in the household. Following the association’s motto ‘back to basics’, its main emphasis is on well-known, trusted brands and products whose consumption conveys a sense of security and safety,” Vesterbæk says. According to the analyst, covid-19 has returned food safety to the primary issue. “Is this food safe? Can I trust the manufacturers? Can the products be traced? These and other questions currently occupy many consumers,” Vesterbæk reports.

Forecasting future meat consumption

Responsible parties in the Danish trade association also want to know whether and how the consumption of meat will change in the “new normal”. They therefore asked futurologist Kirsten Poulsen to predict the future of meat consumption. The fact is that in the pandemic, people are once again cooking more for themselves and increasingly turning to traditional forms of preparation and dishes. “Preparing plant-based or primarily vegetarian meals is something that most consumers have not really learned to do. What we know best has reestablished itself on our dining tables. We tend to be safe and that’s where meat has taken a firm grip,” says Poulsen. One could hope that meat experiences a renaissance. “Ethics, more animal welfare and fair trade will then come into focus. People also want to minimize the impact of agricultural production on the climate,” says the futurologist.

Today, regional products are also increasingly popular. This is confirmed by the analysis department of the Danish Trade Association. According to a survey, around one third of consumers in the country want to buy more Danish food after corona, and 29 percent want to support their local shops. “A kind of regionalism will emerge, partly because it will be harder to transport food from one country to another in the future,” says the analysis department.

Ahead of the game in climate efficiency

People’s desire for more security goes hand in hand with a desire for more climate and environmental protection. However, sustainability has been important to Danish consumers not only since corona. According to a survey conducted by the Danish Trade Association in December 2019, 95 percent of consumers in the Kingdom have changed or intend to change their behavior to protect the environment and climate. Two thirds of Danes state that they always keep sustainability in mind when shopping.

Additionally, the Danish pork industry has already achieved a great deal in terms of climate protection. This conclusion was reached by the internationally recognized US World Resources Institute (WRI). According to its report, Danish, German and Dutch pork production is among the most climate-efficient in the world. WRI’s analysis shows, for example, that the low greenhouse gas emissions from Danish pig production are due, among other things, to optimal feed efficiency. The handling of livestock manure and Denmark’s relatively cool climate also contribute to the comparatively low release of greenhouse gases. One kilogram of Brazilian pork, for example, pollutes the climate about 80 percent more than one kilogram of Danish pork. “The WRI report confirms that we Danes are on the right track. Together with several other countries, we are among the absolute world leaders,” says Martin Merrild, Chairman of the Danish Trade Association.

New climate protection projects

The Danish food industry has set itself an ambitious target. By 2050, the industry wants to establish climate-­neutral food production. To achieve this, the SEGES Pig Research Center in the Danish Professional Association of Agriculture & Food Industry launched the “Center for Climate Protection and Sustainability” at the beginning of the year. “The new competence network will play a central role in coordinating efforts to reduce the climate footprint and increase sustainability – of such elements as environmental protection, animal welfare and biodiversity to occupational health and safety or the economic situation of farmers,” explains Hans Roust Thysen, head of the center.

Keyword sustainability

The SEGES Innovation Center is currently launching a digital climate protection tool in cooperation with the Danish national organic association Økologisk Landsforening. Its aim is to develop software for recording the climate impact at farm level. It should be applicable in all areas of conventional and organic agricultural production and contribute to further reduction of Danish agriculture’s impact on the climate. Furthermore, the software should be able to create lifecycle assessments according to international standards. “We have high hopes for this tool. It opens far-reaching perspectives for individual farmers as well as for the entire industry. This will enable us to drive the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with even more precision,” emphasizes Hans Roust Thysen. The development project is funded by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food. The tool should be ready for use by the end of 2021.www.agricultureandfood.co.uk

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