Denmark’s Organic Action Plan “Working together for more organics”

Organic Denmark
Published: 13 May 2019
Last edited: 08 July 2019
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Developed by involving a broad spectrum of stakeholders, Denmark’s Organic Action Plan is a holistic strategy that increases, on the one hand, the overall demand for organic products and, on the other hand, stimulates research and product innovation. Supported by substantial dedicated funding, the Plan produced very clear positive outcomes: Today Denmark has the highest market share of organic products in the world, with almost 80 percent of Danes purchasing organic food. Also thanks to high demand, the Plan has amply met its original target of doubling organic farm land compared to a 2007 baseline. For its achievements, Denmark’s Organic Action Plan (2011-2020) was recognized with the Future Policy Silver Award 2018, awarded by the World Future Council in partnership with the FAO and IFOAM – Organics International.


North Europe
Scale of implementation
Grassland ecosystems
Rangeland / Pasture
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Food security
Health and human wellbeing
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through consumers
Indirect through government




The initial driver of policy support for organic farming was the recognition that organic production methods offered solutions to environmental problems linked to agriculture and that focusing on supporting organic farming was a strategy to deliver multiple public goods simultaneously. The Danish Government also recognized that, in order for organic agriculture to provide solutions to current challenges, it needed targeted investments in market development, new knowledge in agroecological methods, research, and more collaboration within the organic sector. An another unique approach of the Danish is that, while the potential environmental benefits of applying organic farming methods were increasingly acknowledged, policymakers recognized that the main driving force behind state intervention should be to pay considerable attention to demand creation and not only promoting farm conversion.


In 2017 there were already almost 3,500 organic farms, who benefitted from the Organic Action Plan (9.5 % of all farms). Besides the average consumer, more than 800,000 people benefit from healthy, organic meals served every day in public canteens.

How do the building blocks interact?

Since the 80s Denmark has been a forerunner in governmental support to sustainable agriculture. The country is also a worldwide pioneer when it comes to designing policies according to inclusive and participatory approaches. The Danish Organic Action Plan (OAP, 2011-2020, updated in 2015) was developed through the involvement of a broad spectrum of stakeholders (BB1). As a result, the Danish OAP has a strong focus on demand creation, research and product innovation (BB2 and BB3). Together these building blocks built the OPA's Potential as a Transferable Model (BB4).


Today 97 per cent of all Danish citizens know the national organic logo, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Denmark has highest organic market share in the world (9.7 per cent), with almost 80 percent of Danes purchasing organic food. It also has globally the highest annual per capita spending on organic food. Thanks to the plan, the turnover of organic foods in the food sector has developed positively, reaching approximately EUR 272 million in 2016. About 70 per cent of the turnover came from retail sales in Denmark, whilst about 2 per cent of agricultural produce exported was organic.


The area cultivated by organic farms in 2017 was approximately 245,159 ha, over 9 per cent of Denmark’s total cultivated area, meaning that the OAP has amply met its original target of doubling the surface of organic farmed land compared to the 2007 baseline (+ 68 per cent in 2017). In 2017 there were already almost 3,500 organic farms, approximately 9.5 per cent of total national agricultural holdings. Hence, the OAP has contributed, through market development, conversion checks and conversion support to a 40 per cent increase in organic area over the last two years.


In terms of health, one principal effect of increased organic public food procurement is a decrease in consumers’ intake of pesticide residues, and a decrease in the presence of pesticides in the environment.



Contributed by

Ingrid Heindorf World Future Council (WFC)

Other contributors

IFOAM - Organics International