Photo: Colourbox

Ingredients—a quiet success story

Friday 07 Apr 17
by Morten Andersen


Egon Bech Hansen
DTU National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 03


Anne S. Meyer
DTU Bioengineering
+45 45 25 25 98

Danish ingredients industry

  • Revenue: approx. DKK 35 billion.

  • Export share: 95-98 per cent of the revenue.

  • Global market share: 14 per cent.

  • Jobs: 18,000 people, including approx. 6,200 in Denmark.

Source: “The importance of the ingredients industry for resource-efficient and sustainable food production”, The Danish Food and Drink Federation 2016, figures from 2014.

50 per cent

The Danish ingredients industry is a worldwide success. Every other ice-cream stick contains or is produced from ingredients supplied by a Danish company.
With 14 per cent of the global market and a revenue of up to DKK 35 billion (EUR 470 million), the Danish ingredients industry has relatively unnoticed developed into a heavyweight. At the same time, there are further major growth possibilities. Therefore, DTU wants to strengthen research and education in the area

If you buy an ice cream in a random place in the world, there is a fifty-fifty per cent chance that it contains or is produced from ingredients supplied by a Danish company. If you buy a loaf of bread, the probability is ‘only’ 25 per cent—but that is also a rather high share considering the amount of bread consumed on a global scale. In total, Danish companies account for 14 per cent of the global market for ingredients.

By comparison, this corresponds approximately to the market share for the Danish shipping industry.

The impressive figures are the reason why DTU together with the Danish Food and Drink Federation and the Danish Agriculture & Food Council have carried out a study of the industry and its development areas. A report recommends to intensify DTU’s efforts in the area. More specifically, the report suggests that a new unit, DTU Ingredients, be established to coordinate research and education activities relevant to the ingredients which today are spread across several of the university’s departments. The model is known from, for example, DTU Maritime Center, which serves as the shipping industry’s point of access to DTU.

Need for even more ingredients

A large number of companies in the industry have participated in the study. The overall picture is that the strong growth recorded by the Danish ingredients industry has far from peaked yet. UN’s forecasts indicate that the number of people in the world will increase by approx. two billion over the coming decades. This will result in a growing demand for food and thereby also ingredients. But the demand for ingredients will actually increase even more than the general demand for food. Most new citizens of the world will be living in towns and cities. This will increase the distance between food cultivation and food consumption. Therefore, there will be an even greater need for ingredients which prolong product shelf life and ensure they have an acceptable flavour, texture, etc.

In other words, Danish ingredients companies have definitely not exhausted their growth possibilities. However, the study also shows that it will require considerable efforts in relation to research, innovation, and educating graduates to maintain the large Danish market share within the area.

Unknown to the public

Several companies emphasize that the industry has experienced more recruitment difficulties compared to other industries with the same high technological level. One reason is that ingredients companies are practically only engaged in business-to-business activities. Therefore, they are unknown to the public. At the same time, companies in the food industry generally have no interest in advertising that their products contain certain ingredients.

According to the report, this picture may change in future. It will become increasingly common to focus on the health impact of ingredients, for example that a product contains dietary fibres or bacterial cultures which benefit the digestive process or promote health in other ways.


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