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Provenance in Denmark

New report describes opportunities and barriers for the development of the food industry based on type products.

Photo: Rais Foto

In the Western world, there is enough food for everyone to get their calorie needs met. Growth potential for food producers therefore lies in increasing the value of production rather than increasing volume. This is in line with the fact that more and more consumers are interested in food that can deliver more than just nutrition – they want eating to be an experience to, they focus on animal welfare and look after the climate, nature and the environment.

The starting point for the ProvenanceDK research project (2016-2020) was therefore to investigate and support consumers' ability to buy the products they want - and correspondingly for producers to be able to meet consumer expectations in a modern food system.

Inspired by the concept of "provenance", the project aimed to develop the potential of Danish type products.

What is provenance?

"Provenance" describes the distinctiveness associated with a particular origin. Distinctiveness can come from a particular composition of soil, plants, landscape or climate. It can also be the result of a particular craft tradition. A product may also have specific characteristics based on genetics - for example, old varieties or livestock breeds. In addition, there may be a deliberate design of a particular production system that produces different social goods, such as natural grazing.

The DCA report "Provenance in Denmark - A mapping of opportunities and barriers for the development of the food industry based on type products" presents the project's results and experiences in developing the potential for Danish type products. The report is divided into three thematic parts:

1. Natural basis and landscape variation

The first part studies the relationship between the nature and landscape variation. This is, for example, whether the cultivation of a given food product can be adapted to the specific geography of the production site, so that the finished product takes on the flavour of the place. The project has developed a method, terron mapping, that can do this. Furthermore, the project has developed a methodology to map the suitability of certain areas for specific crops. The study identifies the factors that influence where what is grown and how this can be used in relation to type of products.

The project also highlights how the production of type products can take into account many different considerations, including climate, the environment and the farmer's economy. This is illustrated by a method of targeting land use to the local geography.  In addition, a pilot study is described that illustrates how geographical location and variety selection influence the taste of pure apple juice. The study suggests that there is a potential to develop a type character for geographically specific pure apple juices.

2. Cultural history and quality development

The second part of the report focuses on cultural history and its role in quality development.

The project has carried out an extensive survey of cultivation in the 19th century and the report summarises what we can learn from the cultivation systems of the past. Similarly, it describes how 'genetic resources', i.e. traditional varieties or breeds, can be used to create type products.

Work has been carried out to recreate and develop historical recipes from the period around the mid-1830s. This shows, among other things, how historical recipes can be given new meaning in a contemporary context, for example in relation to creating new experiences and meals.

In addition, development work has been carried out in cooperation with businesses in the Ringkøbing-Skjern municipality. Concrete experience has been gained in the development of type products, including how to strike a balance between innovation and tradition.

3. Business strategy and communication

The third and final part of the report deals with aspects of business strategy and communication. Based on interviews with companies, it examines which dimensions are central to the development of companies' individual business models and how motivations are translated into business strategies. Furthermore, the challenges of using origin labelling as part of a regional development strategy are described, based on the experience with the Danish origin label for Wadden Sea lamb. Finally, opportunities and barriers for dissemination of place-specific products in the value chain are discussed.

Future perspectives

The report describes and documents resources that producers, planners and food artisans can benefit from in the future work of developing Danish type products. For example, the mapping of natural conditions in specific locations provides an opportunity to develop or document the production of food products with unique qualities.

Basically, the report shows that there is a great potential for the development of type products in Denmark; the market is not saturated and the demand for products with special qualities is growing.

The report points to a need for the development of type products to be broadly anchored in the food system and for a foundation to be created for increased marketing of the products. In this context, it is important to engage consumers and make visible what their consumption means for the development of local food production. Based on the project's cooperation with a number of private companies, it is also pointed out that a growth layer of committed producers is of great importance for the development of type products.


Additional information

We strive to ensure that all our articles live up to the Danish universities' principles for good research communication(scroll down to find the English version on the web-site). Because of this the article will be supplemented with the following information:


Innovationsfund Denmark


The author group consists of researchers and staff from the Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, InnovaConsult ApS, Madhistorie.nu and the MAPP Centre, Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University. In addition, the project group consisted of representatives from three Danish municipalities (Slagelse, Randers and Ringkøbing-Skjern), a business region, and the private companies COOP, Hørkram, Meyers Madhus and Randers Regnskov.

External commenting

The report has not been subject to external comment. Results and experiences from project work disseminated and discussed at professional meetings, congresses, etc.

Conflict of interest


Read more

DCA Rapport nr. 205: Provenance i Danmark

- En kortlægning af muligheder og barrierer for udvikling af fødevareerhvervet med udgangspunkt i typeprodukter


Researcher Martin Hvarregaard Thorsøe and Senior Researcher Chris Kjeldsen