After taking part in the Natural Products Scandinavia fair in Malmo, Sweden on 16-17 November last year, OWN visited Danish organic companies and retail shops to witness this remarkable land of history and its contrast of old buildings and traditions and a youthful attitude eager to explore and embark in more sustainable ways to work and live. From the moment you arrive at the Copenhagen airport, you enjoy Scandinavian design and style that provide an unparalleled sense of quality.

Enter a 7Eleven store, and instead of the typical junk food loaded with synthetic preservatives, colorants and other chemicals on display at any of those outlets in North America, at these convenient stores, you will find fresh and ready-to-eat salads, wraps, smoothies and gluten-free and organic certified snacks overpowering the cheap sweets and chips. The food purchasing team at the retail chain visited the Natural Products Scandinavia and OWN was pleased to meet them at our booth.

Want to taste a chocolate bar? Forget about the standard international brands with cheap products filled with refined sugar, artificial vanilla flavor, emulsifiers like soy lecithin (E322) and other additives that mask the bitter taste of conventional cacao when it is not properly grown, fermented, dried, roasted and mixed with the right amount of sugar in the conch.

Discover the delicate Oialla, organic chocolate for an ultimate delight enjoying just the taste of wild Beniano cocoa beans and organic cane sugar. Nothing else. Harvested by hand once a year in the rainforest between Bolivia and Brazil, the wild seeds are selected and fermented under the exact specifications of Danish master chocolatier Rasmus Bo Bojensen. He started Oialla with his wife Pernille Lüzthøft in 2010. The beans are shipped to Denmark for roasting and conching and turn into delicate bars wrapped in impeccable white paper with a simple design. The wrapping mimics an origami.

Oialla is recognized as one of the world’s most exquisite dark chocolate brands found at top shops and restaurants, including Tårnet, located in the tower of Christiansborg Tårnet (Danish Parliament) that Mr. Bojensen runs.

At the open markets in Copenhagen, visitors may enjoy a unique blend of high-quality design, fashion, and gastronomy, old and new. Perhaps Torvehallerne is the best example of the old marketplace concept turned into an upscale stage with an atmosphere of sophistication. The site is in the city center and has an impressive structure of steel and glass with high ceilings and plenty of natural light. The outdoor section showcases displays of flowers, fresh herbs and colorful produce for sale. Over 60 stalls including GRØD, the trendy restaurant that only serves porridge adding flavors of cuisines from around the world, offer high-quality local products for every taste, from fish and meat to coffee and beer to hand-made bath and body products.

Besides the fun glass jars with homemade scrubs that Saltskrub offers at Torvehallerne, other health & beauty products that got attention to OWN during this trip are Ginger Organic and Tromborg. Ginger Organic is a line of feminine hygiene products presented in sustainable cardboard packaging minimizing the use of ink, and Tromborg, an upscale line of cosmetics made with the purest ingredients with a presentation and merchandising that reflect the Scandinavian spirit.

Tromborg is a Danish line of skin products with innovative formulations containing plant-based active ingredients with scientifically proven health benefits.

A professional makeup artist, co-founder Marianne Tromborg has selected only the purest organic essential oils. “Plant extracts from calendula, malva, passionflower and pomegranate infuse the skin with moisture and energy efficiently, quickly and easily.” Tim Schyberg, the mastermind behind the Tromborg line brought a wealth of experience from the biotech and anti-aging industry when he joined the firm in 2006, and knowledge of the right ingredients and combination to obtain effective skin care products. The brand has three distinct lines: Tromborg Professional Make Up, Tromborg Scandinavian Mood and Tromborg Treatment.

“While training to become a nurse I joined Doctors Without Borders and travelled to Africa and India, where I could see the side effects that harsh pesticides and fertilizers used in modern farming have in the health of cotton growers and their families,” said Helena Fernando-Kristensen, co-founder, and CEO at Ginger Organic. She also dealt with the skin irritations caused by medical bandages and the, sometimes severe, rash that non-woven fabrics used to make disposable diapers cause to the soft and delicate baby skin. Back at home Mrs. Fernando-Kristensen realized that even the organic food sector is growing, there are very few organic certified products for feminine hygiene that provide all the support women need in their different stages of life. Mrs. Fernando-Kristensen got married and busy with her little kids, but she kept thinking even more that there was the need for better products to provide safe protection for her and the children. Encouraged by her husband, they embarked on a five-year journey planning the business and designing a line that today offers seven different products: feminine pads, tampons, and nursing pads, to provide proper support to young and older women anytime of the day and the month.

This line is made with 100% organic cotton, it is GOTS, and ECOCERT certified and had not much glue, which is what often causes most skin irritations. The panty liners are offered in cardboard boxes, although many consumers requested boxes with individually wrapped pads, and the company added them even though this means extra packaging and waste. “We are now embarked on an active social media campaign to increase product awareness.” It is important to help women think how much waste goes to the landfill as result of the non-woven synthetic pads loaded with chemicals they dispose of every month during their life. More women need to know 100% organic certified hygiene products made from cotton can replace synthetic products, do not hurt their skin, and are compostable.

Another example of Danish creativity in design and product development is found in Is Skaro, a delicious ice cream formulated for patients that have undergone surgery and are recovering from the effects of general anesthesia. “Ice cream is often the first meal patients receive after surgery,” said the company founder Martin Jorgensen. “A cold and soft food offers relief to a sore and dried mouth and throat.” What makes IS Skaro unique is its high protein, fiber, and probiotic content that the body may absorb quickly to assist digestion and the healing process. “IS Skaro is a great food for young, sick patients. It provides Omega-3 for brain activity, and pro- and prebiotics that improve digestion. Is Skaro also has an ice cream for pregnant consumers that experience morning sickness, and to provide extra energy during childbirth. The line also keeps in mind patients in need of high-protein intake for faster muscle building or athletes after training.

The high-protein ice creams are obtained with a proprietary processing and technology that avoids protein denaturalization. The ice cream formulation can be adapted to consumer needs: Some may require proteins that will increase appetite, while others may produce the opposite result, assisting in weight control. All products are suitable for Kosher and Halal diets. Mr. Jorgensen and his wife and managing director Britta Tarp are focused now on the development of the domestic market, but they also exhibited at Sial Paris last fall and will be present at BioFach in Germany this coming February.

The organic sector in Denmark is expanding to food and non-food products. It has also reached the market for alcoholic beverages. OWN visited the Nyborg Distillery in the former DSB building for locomotive workshops at the Nyborg port. The project aims to offer a broad range of organic spirits such as gin, rum, whiskey and fruit brandies, said Kim Møller-Elshøj, who introduces himself as blender & storyteller This new venture is part of Naturfrisk, which was founded by Niels Rømer and his son Nicolai in 1996. The company first acquired the premises of the Ørbæk Brewery, producer of organic soft drinks and beer. Naturfrisk is the brand of a line of organic sodas, smoothies and juices, one of the first in this segment in Denmark.

"The Nyborg Distillery is sitting in a restored 125-year-old building and will offer the first organic whiskey in Denmark made with local barley and other liquors also made from local fruits collected on the island,” said Mr. Møller-Elshøj. “Converting an old structure to hold 10 million liters of alcohol is a quite a challenge”. The distillery will have its bottling plant. They also aim to have their own barrels. “There are already 21 micro distilleries in Denmark; eight have popped up in the past five years; we will be the largest one.” The site aims to make great beverages following sustainable business practices, sourcing local ingredients and in organic quality. The site will become a place for social and cultural gatherings.

There are many interesting organic enterprises to visit in Denmark, each showing the high commitment of entrepreneurs willing to develop products that meet all requirements for a product to be sustainable and of high quality. And to rest after an exciting day visiting projects and stores, the Hotel Axel Guldsmeden is one that “walks the talk” in organic hospitality. 

This season over 50 Danish firms will be present at BioFach under the Bio aus Daenemark / Organic Denmark pavilion showing their latest innovations and willing to celebrate the results as the country with the highest consumption of organic products per capita in the world.