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Survey shows how U.S. and others view Danish food safety

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A survey has reviewed the opinions on food safety for companies in the United States and two other countries to find out how they view Danish standards.

The Food Nation report is based on a survey of decision-makers in the United States, China and Germany to get their views on food and agriculture in Denmark. In total, 628 participants took part with 201 of the interviews in the United States

For 67 percent of U.S. decision-makers, food safety is the most important indicator of food quality, while 54 percent believe that COVID-19 has increased their customers’ food safety concerns.

The United States is one of Denmark’s largest export markets with trade including pork, fish, shellfish and composite foods.

Room for improvement
More than a third recognize Danish food and agricultural products and solutions as having the world’s highest food safety standards but companies could benefit from stronger communication about how systems, controls and certifications contribute to safe food production and traceability, according to the report.

Almost three quarters think that investment in new technology is necessary to support food safety, quality and resource optimization and enable long-term growth.

In total, 74 percent said a proven high level of food safety and quality is an increasingly important trade parameter and 70 percent believe a documented high level of food safety increases product value.

For U.S. respondents, quality assurance systems are the main food safety drivers, followed by government certification or controls, and the traceability of products and their ingredients.

An example given in the report is fresh table eggs from DANÆG that are sold in two German supermarket chains. Peter Munch, export director, said DANÆG could offer something that local producers could not.

“At the time, there were regular incidents when supermarkets had to withdraw eggs due to Salmonella. We found that the Danish Salmonella action plan had put us one step ahead. So we started with what we are good at in Denmark and then brought that together with a German mindset,” he said.

Wider opinions
The survey was conducted by Epinion in February and March 2021. Food Nation is a non-profit partnership established by the Danish government, private organizations and companies to create awareness of food and agriculture in Denmark.

Respondents are from a range of companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises and large multinational companies from along the food supply chain.

Overall, almost four in five decision-makers state that high food safety and quality standards are increasingly important to trade. Forty percent associate Danish food and agricultural products and solutions with world-class food safety with this being highest in China.

In China, 78 percent agree that food safety concerns have risen over the past year due to the pandemic, but this falls to 54 percent in the United States and 37 percent in Germany.

Regulation and control was important to 43 percent in Germany, 27 percent in the United States and 20 percent in China. Good hygiene is another top-three point for all countries. However, while the United States and Germany prioritize quality, Chinese participants put more emphasis on technology and automation.

A total of 72 percent of Chinese decision-makers agree that food safety is the most important indicator of food quality and 64 percent believe customers expect more transparency around safety standards and raw material quality.

Respondents said that documented high food safety has a positive impact on product value. Many Chinese and U.S. decision-makers claim to require higher food safety standards of partners and suppliers than local authorities but those in Germany appear more content to follow authority-set standards.

For Chinese decision-makers, quality assurance systems are the most important food safety drivers, followed by personal hygiene programs and adherence to transportation standards.

For Germans, quality assurance and accurate testing systems are the main drivers, followed by government certification and controls, and traceability of products and their ingredients.

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