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Consolidation continues in Denmark as frozen food firms prepare for 1992.

Consolidation Continues in Denmark As Frozen Food Firms Prepare for 1992

Changes continue to abound in the Danish frozen food industry as 1992 fast approaches, with its promise of easier access to European markets. Buyouts and mergers remain the order of the day and companies are fine-tuning their sales strategies and product lines.

In the in-depth Danish market survey published by Quick Frozen Foods International last year, it was reported that more changes had taken place than in any other 12-month period in history. While the pace of these changes has slowed since the "Big Bang," ripples are still being felt. It is now far easier to count the number of firms which remain independent than to tally up those that have been acquired or merged. The driving force behind all this is the belief that in order to compete in Europe after 1992, a company will have to be of a certain size to take advantage of economies of scale and be able to afford the necessary brand promotion.

Danisco and SN-Invest are the main concerns which have been buying into frozen foods. Both firms have a strong base in the food industry as well as money to invest.

With ownership of the entire Danish frozen vegetable processing segment, baked goods specialist Mette Munk, ready meals maker Kirk Food, a potato company, and the impending purchasing of the Nyborg Lynfrost cold store operation, Danisco would seem bent upon controlling all of the country's frozen food business. However, while it has moved into the industry very quickly (80% of the frozen food group has been acquired within the last 18 months), all purchases have been studied and calculated very carefully.

At Danisco's headquarters in Copenhagen, QFFI met with the frozen food division's new president, Claus B. Heinze, and vice president of finance and business development, Torben Bjerre-Madsen. The latter revealed that in addition to various food companies, the conglomerate also has holdings in the packaging and machinery fields. Within the food group, frozens are seen as having the greatest potential for expansion. Danisco expects to triple turnover by the year 2000, and frozen foods are to play an important part in achieving this goal.

In other countries, the United States in particular, many companies that have grown rapidly through acquisition have found themselves in the position of later having to sell their holdings to pay off incurred financial debt. When asked about this possibility, it was explained that to date all purchases have been self-financed and that Danisco can spend 1 billion DKK (about US$ 160 million) per year without having to borrow!

Mr. Heinze stated that the aim of his division is to establish itself as a sub-supplier to the international food industry by selling raw materials to other processors as well as co-packing and producing private labels. Where it is feasible, the brands will be fully supported.

Further expansion is being looked at in vegetables, although to do this, Danisco will have to search beyond Denmark. With the acquisition of Svendborg Konservesfabrik at the end of last year and the purchase of Frigodan from SN-Invest in April, Danisco literally owns the Danish frozen vegetable industry.

In explaining the rationale behind this, the president said that he had learned an important lesson from the Danish butter cookie industry. With its product once looked upon as a high quality item in export markets, the field is now crowded with producers and no one is making any money. In a country the size of Denmark, two processors are one too many in the price-competitive vegetable market.

Managements of the acquired firms have largely been left intact, but Danisco will work with the companies to help them fit in with corporate stratregy. Danisco A/S is now identified with all the company names.

SN-Invest Moves Forward

With a majority interest in baked goods producer Hatting Bageri and seafood and ready meals maker Rahbekfisk, the goals of SN-Invest would seem to be the same as those of Danisco. However, at corporate headquarters in the center of Copenhagen, managing director Lars Rahbek Hansen stated, "We have no ambitions of building a conglomerate with the heading SN-Invest. I'm not hunting turnover, I'm hunting profit."

In January it was decided to concentrate exclusively on food, so all non-food companies in the group have been spun off. When asked about the sale of Frigodan after owning it for only a year, Mr. Rahbek Hansen informed QFFI that it would have required too much investment to become viable.

Clearly, management is interested only in profitable firms making high quality products. But the company is not limiting itself to frozen foods or Denmark, as it is searching for opportunities internationally. "We are well dressed to go out and add on other companies in any sector," explained the managing director, referring to SN-Invest's expertise in the food industry and its financial strength.

Corporate policy is to allow the companies to operate as they normally would and to work with management teams and provide capital where needed. Knowhow from one company will be made available to others for production and marketing purposes.

There has been much speculation in the industry about where SN-Invest would spend the money earned from the sale of Frigodan. Mr. Rahbek Hansen wasn't giving away any secrets, but did indicate that the meat and poultry industries were being looked at.

Progress Continues

Fortunately, despite the acquisitions - both actual and impending - the individual company managers have not been left with their hands tied, as is often the case when a small company becomes part of a larger concern. On the contrary, the entire Danish frozen food industry is moving toward the remains about one quarter that of retail.

Regarding microwaves, since the lifting of an excise tax on durable goods at the end of 1988, sales have skyrocketed. Some 118,000 ovens were sold last year compared to 55,000 in 1988. Predictions for 1990 are for sales of 150,000 units, which will mean that 20% of all Danish homes will have the appliance.

Catering Still Strong

Interestingly, catering enjoyed the biggest percentage gain at 11.3% last year, while the retail segment grew at a 4.7% clip. This is in spite of a declining restaurant trade due to the government's slashing of business meal tax deductions from 100% of the check to just 25%.

In trying to explain this anomaly, Mr. Hedegaard stated: "Perhaps restaurants have seen that they can run more efficiently by using frozen foods." He added, however, that most of the increase was due to the growth of company canteens where the entire cost of business meals can still be written off.

Although the industry would appear to be shrinking due to company buyouts, Dybfrostradet membership grew by 11 to reach 92 as more firms joined to take advantage of services. All Danisco companies have taken separate memberships, and several newcomers from the meat industry have signed up.

In the past years, the Council has conducted a two-week retail promotion called Frostival. However, since this evolved into a price promotion with little lasting result, the theme is being changed to embody more of a consumer education campaign. Due to misconceptions spawned by the Green movement, many consumers now perceive frozens to be inferior products. "We must do what we did 25 years ago. That is to educate people as to what frozen foods are," said Mr. Hedegaard in explaining the new strategy.

However, such an ambitious plan requires a fair amount of investment. At the Council's annual meeting on May 17 a proposal was put forth, but not enough money was raised to foot the bill. Most likely, a scaled back approach will be launched in the autumn.

Royal Greenland's Road Back

In 1988, a new executive team was installed at Royal Greenland headquarters in Aalborg with the mission of turning around the highly unprofitable seafood company. Now, although still operating in the red, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Jorgen Norup was very straight forward about Royal Greenland's position, stating that in 1989 it lost DKK 100 million (about $16 million). However, this was DKK 80 million less than the deficit incurred during 1988, and there is hope for at least breaking even this year. The export manager commented: "We would have almost broken even last year if currencies had not been against us in foreign markets."

Mr. Norup attributes the turnaround to changes in the structure of the company. All sectors now work as an integrated group from trawler to production to sales and marketing. Employees have made an extra effort and this has resulted in better yields and greater production. Customers have shown a high degree of loyalty and are now reaping the benefits of having a strong supplier of quality products.

The 7,500 square meter factory, built by the previous management with the lofty goal of making money in ready meals, now produces three lines: smoked halibut and salmon, fish portions, and various forms of the company's mainstay - shrimp. The plant is operating at near capacity and during the time of this writer's visit, there was more activity than had been witnessed before. The factory has also undergone changes in accordance with the wishes of British retailer Marks & Spencer, an important client.

The portion line is currently running cod, halibut and Greenland catfish to supply ready markets throughout Scandinavia, France and the U.K. Germany has been the biggest customer for smoked fish, and Royal Greenland contractpacks for a number of smaller smokehouses. Japan, where an office is maintained, has also shown interest in smoked halibut. Meanwhile, two million party sides of smoked salmon are being produced for upcoming Christmas season demand.

Three lines are turning out shrimp in sizes beginning at two ounces. The firm produces for many retailers throughout Europe and is now doing retail packs for Japan directly on board trawlers. Portion control packs for hotels and caterers are reportedly becoming more popular.

Sabroe Refrigeration

Aarhus-based Sabroe Refrigeration enjoyed a banner year in 1989, racking up a higher rate of orders than ever. And this year is shaping up in much the same way. Flemming Boldvig reported that demand for the firm's compressors is up and all subsidiaries are operating at profitable levels.

The company makes a wide range of screw and piston compressors to efficiently and economically meet any need. The current trend is toward downsizing screw compressors. Much development has gone into this, including opening a new machining center for the production of screws.

As the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has become more of an issue, and restraints have been placed upon the use of traditional refrigerants, Sabroe has promoted ammonia as an ozone-friendly alternative. Heavy research on the chemical has been undertaken to make sure compressors can run with maximum efficiency and reliability.

In a recent order, Sabroe has contracted to supply 15 machine rooms to a firm in Siberia for use in freezing feed for furred animals. The rooms, built inside standard size shipping containers, contain everything necessary to supply refrigeration to a cold store, thereby greatly simplifying on-site installation. The same customer has ordered compressors and air coolers for an additional 20 cold stores in Finland. In all, 25 container-built rooms have been delivered to the USSR during the past year.

Forty-five compressor units, using both piston and screw units, are being supplied to Bulgaria. Thirty have already been shipped and will be used to renovate eight existing slaughterhouses.

Other recent orders include one for a large meat plant in Botswana. Financed by the European Community and built to EEC specifications, the factory will export meat to the Common Market.

Dat-Schaub

While other processors focus their attention on Europe, Copenhagen-headquartered Dat-Schaub is looking toward the Middle East. Not that the 100-year-old exporter of value added frozen foods isn't interested in Continental business, it's just that development has taken place in Dubai. Export manager Kirsten Hegedorn informed QFFI that the company's newest factory opened there on May 22. Dubai Meat Packers will produce beef, mutton and chicken products under the Dat-Schaub brand, and will also work closely with customers to develop new products.

Dat-Schaub has always enjoyed a substantial business in the Middle East, but the new plant will make it more competitive by cutting down on transportation costs while also fitting in with the trend of more localized production. Built to a high level of hygienic standards, the facility boasts full control of every operation from the handling of raw materials to final processing and packaging.

In addition to the Middle East, France and the USA were cited as the biggest markets. Another processing plant, situated in Hong Kong, supplies the Southeast Asian market. In Europe, Spain, Portugal and Italy have been targeted for expansion.

Dat-Schaub's latest item is a cooked chicken roll which can be used for sandwiches, diced for salads, or breaded and fried. Other new products include chicken burgers, which will be launched at SIAL this fall.

Emborg Foods

While some companies see increasing their size as the key to survival, others believe opportunities exist in remaining a medium size company. One such firm is Aalborg-based Emborg Foods.

While not relying solely on the European market, Emborg has become a specialist in selling to third countries. General manager Mogens Kaiser pointed out that this gives his outfit an advantage over large companies that are concentrating only on Europe.

Regarding changes in the Eastern bloc, Mr. Kaiser commented, "We are very fortunate in that we already have a company in West Germany from which we can service East Germany." The Frankfurt operation is being expanded to export German products to third countries as well as service the civilian and military markets. In Aalborg, a special department has been set up to handle Eastern Europe.

Military sales have always been a strong part of Emborg's business, and the market remains solid at the

PHOTO : President of Danisco's frozen food division, Claus B. Heinze(I), and vice president of finance and business development, Torben Bjere-Madsen, have a lot to be happy about these days as Danisco assumes a dominant position in the Danish marketplace.

PHOTO : Lars Rahbek Hansen, managing director of SN-Invest.

PHOTO : Jorgen Norup, export manager for Royal Greenland, is pleased with the progress the company has made this year.

PHOTO : Flemming Boldvig stands next to a machine room under construction at Sabroe. The containerized unit holds all the equipment needed to provide refrigeration for a processing plant or cold store.

PHOTO : These compressors are awaiting shipment from the Sabroe plant to Bulgaria. The units are part of a total order of 45 that will be used to renovate slaughterhouses.

PHOTO : New from Dat-Schaub is this versatile chicken roll which can be diced, sliced or breaded and fried. Other new products will be shown on the company's stand at SIAL in October.

PHOTO : While others concentrate solely on Europe, Emborg Foods has been busy selling Danish pastry in the Middle East. moment. However, with the likely decrease in NATO forces, the longterm outlook is for a downward trend. In the short run, though, the effect of this has been good since competitors are staying out of the segment.

The Middle East market, according to product manager John Mortensen, has been down due to an increasing acceptance of locally produced products. This is a marked change from the past, when consumers looked for imports. However, a good market has been found in supplying processors with raw materials.

Overall, business has been quite good. Turnover has risen steadily over the past few years and a 20% increase is expected in 1990.

Cabinplant

As profits in the seafood industry are squeezed by increased competition and, in some cases, lowered quotas, the demand for equipment which will produce higher yields at a lower cost is on the rise. Quick to recognize this demand, Cabinplant continues to build innovative fish processing machinery.

Anette Nielsen told this reporter that the Haarby firm's latest development is a machine which deheads shrimp before peeling. The advantage of this unit, which can be built onto existing shrimp peeling equipment, is that it sharply lowers the amount of waste water created while increasing plant capacity by as much as 20%. Also, because the heads are removed before peeling, they can be utilized as offal for trout. Under older technology, re-use was impossible.

Niels Sorensen commented that 1989 was Cabinplant's best year, and the firm continues to be active in many markets. Greece has grown considerably and five fish processing plants have been shipped there in recent years. A newly developed de-header which makes better use of backbone meat was sent to the Mediterranean country this year.

Shrimp plants have been installed in France and Denmark, and southeast Asia has shown a strong increase.

Business has been steady for other types of equipment as well. A vegetable plant with the capacity to process 12 tons of peas per hour was sold in Germany, and three thawing plants have gone to Russia.

The company's blancher/cooler continues to be popular, with six having been delivered so far this year. Since 1981, 55 have been sold worldwide.

Mette Munk

Baked goods producer Mette Munk was acquired by Danisco last year, and the new managing director, Henning Krustrup, has been running things since September. He has high hopes for the Odense firm, anticipating a 15% increase this year and a doubling of turnover by 1995!

When asked how this was to be accomplished, the determined managing director stated that he expected most market expansion to take place within the EEC. Product wise, the company will not divert from its traditional path but will add varieties within the present range according to consumer tastes and market demands.

Product development is expected to play an increasing role as various market trends exert their influence. Citing the green movement, Mr. Krustrup mentioned the importance of developing more vegetable savouries and dough with a higher fiber content to match health trends.

Noting that Sara Lee has 80% of the Danish pastry business in the U.K., the managing director said that Mette Munk plans to increase its share there. A consumer level promotion will begin soon, and the catering side will receive attention as well.

Expansion is also taking place on the domestic market, which in past years had received secondary attention. The catering sector has been especially targeted for growth.

Holland was mentioned as a market which is showing some strong results. France is on an upswing, while Scandinavia has remained stable.

Nutana Rides Green Wave

With the green movement getting more and more publicity and the healthy eating trend taking hold throughout Europe, who could possibly be in a better position to capitalize on the market than a well respected health food processor with a frozen line? Nutana is just such a company and although it hasn't exactly taken the Continent by storm, managing director Tue Westing has big plans for the firm's frozen range.

For more than 90 years the Bjaeverskov company has long been a household name in health food circles, producing a full line of dry and canned products. Four years ago it developed a range of frozen vegetable burgers and ready meals sold through supermarkets and aimed at health conscious, but not necessarily vegetarian, consumers. While some success was achieved, two mistakes were made which have now been corrected.

First, the initial range of products was too large, encompassing everything from ethnic ready meals to pizza. The line has now been pared down to 12 vegetable burgers, a limited range of ready meals and other items such as falafel and vegetable croquettes.

Second, the products were not originally developed for people used to eating meat whose tastes tend to differ from those of vegetarians. In short, the concept was correct but the execution was not. Products have now been re-formulated and spices have been added to impact a preferred flavor.

The initial response has been favorable. Nutana exhibited at the Private Label Show in Amsterdam last May and received a positive reaction. Regarding brand names vs. own labels, Mr. Westing commented, "Whether we enter the supermarket trade under our own name or through a private label, we really don't care."

He went on to explain that as markets evolve, the brand will be supported in Scandinavia and private labels will be promoted in other areas. Nutana expects to show a profit from its frozen range by 1992.

Brodrene Gram

As changes in the marketplace have taken place, freezing equipment manufacturer Brodrene Gram has changed its products and corporate structure to keep up with the pace. Part of the restructuring involved dividing industrial refrigeration and ice cream equipment into two groups with marketing manager H.J. Knudsen in charge of the latter group. Ole Lassen, who worked for Gram a number of years ago, has come back to head up the industrial refrigeration sector.

With the exception of Denmark, the Eastern bloc and certain other countries, the firm's contracting division was eliminated last year. This has had a dramatic effect on the sale of components. Turnover is reportedly up 20% due to sales to contractors who are now more receptive as they no longer view Gram as a competitor.

Soren Gram commented that most of the increase was due to higher demand for screw compressors, sales of which have multiplied fifteen fold in the last three years. The compressors, formerly bought from Frick, are now being made at the Vojens plant under a special agreement. Gram also makes piston compressors.

On the ice cream side, the company has been involved in providing complete processing lines. Recently large installations were made in Belgium, Hungary, Turkey and Czechoslovakia. Line extensions have been provided to concerns in the Far East, and a complete cartoning unit was sold in Spain.

As for new equipment, an aerator has been developed to improve the quality of stick novelties. Use of the device results in a more homogenized product, enabling makers of premium ice creams to increase profits.

With a long involvement in Eastern Europe, Gram is well poised to take advantage of the recent changes. Offices have been opened in Russia and Poland.

Schur International

Headquartered in Horsens, Schur International is a large, multinational packaging company that supplies equipment, complete systems and packaging materials. Food packaging comprises a major part of the firm's business, and frozen foods account for a large part of this sector. In connection with its packaging materials, Schur acts as an agent for Kliklok machinery in Scandinavia and Germany.

Schur Engineering is responsible for equipment sales and installations. Managing Director Heinrich Lambach mentioned that with a trend in frozen food production toward increasing automation, business has been good. Referring to labor problems in various countries, he stated, "People want to automate because on Monday morning they know the machine is going to be there."

In the price-competitive fish finger market, the need to cut costs is great. Hence a completely automated line incorporating many new ideas was recently installed for Findus in Norway. Done in conjunction with Kliklok, it offers flexibility. Reportedly, another is under construction elsewhere in Scandinavia.

Schur's Joker system, which may be employed when processing anything from chopped spinach to fish fillets, uses special bags which are adapted to customers' personal requirements. The bags are connected and drawn from a box over two specially designed guides which open them for filling. After being closed, the bags are heat sealed and transported off the line individually. They can then be filled manually or from any type of equipment including data weighers.

Commenting on environmental issues, Peter Brudgam said that the company has been able to meet requirements. All plastic packaging materials conform to conditions placed by various countries, and Schur is now producing paperboard cartons made without bleach as demanded in Sweden.

Danish Viking

Danish Viking is the export arm of ost Jyske slagterier amba. The leading producer of pork products accounts for one eighth of the total Danish production.

At company headquarters in Bjerringbro, export manager Frank Nielsen and marketing manager Peter Kroon explained that their main customers are in the USA, France, Germany, the U.K. and Japan - the latter of whom are becoming increasingly important.

While tariffs are high in the Asian nation, Danish Viking has had good success in selling to Daiei, the country's biggest supermarket chain. Demand has been mostly for basic products, but there is now a growing interest in other items such as sausages and salami.

Business in Western markets is quite steady, but the requirements are for traditional items such as bacon, shoulder and bone meat. To expand volume, Danish Viking has begun to develop a range of further processed products.

A line of toppings for frozen pizza manufacturers has been formulated. Based not only on pork, products also include diced chicken, turkey, lamb and beef. The idea behind this is to provide processors with all their topping requirements at a single source.

The company is also interested in selling to ready meal makers as well. Admitting that there is not presently much demand for pork in this segment, Mr. Kroon stated, "If we are going to get more pork into the ready meal industry, it must be very lean."

Regarding 1992, Mr. Nielsen commented, "Every market has always been open for Danish meat." Few changes are seen as the company is already active throughout Europe.

Plans are currently afoot to streamline production. Pending approval, four slaughterhouses will be closed and one large, efficient operation will be set up as a cost cutting measure.

Jorgensen Engineering

With all the mergers that have taken place in the food industry of late, a logical conclusion would be that equipment sales would have slowed due to a rationalization of production facilities. Not so according to Jorgensen Engineering. Business has been booming for the Odense-based manufacturer of processing equipment.

With subsidiaries in Ireland and Australia, the company is active throughout the world, thus protecting the bottom line from downturns in any particular country.

This year, equipment for frozen berries has been sold in Czechoslovakia and Austria. A large potato plant has also been supplied to Czechoslovakia in cooperation with Frigoscandia and PPM of Sweden.

Meanwhile, equipment for green beans has been delivered to Hungary, Austria and Belgium.

Regarding Eastern Europe, sales manager Bent Jensen stated, "We've been there for many years so there is a mutual knowledge and trust in each other. So far we have not been able to detect any trend of things getting better, but we have very good orders."

Managing director Hanne Jorgensen visited Russia in April. In the USSR Frigoscandia will handle sales of the firm's frozen food equipment.

As for the future, a lot of research and development is going on with equipment to be marketed next year. Mr. Jensen would not reveal any details about the new products, but said that machinery was currently being tested in New Zealand and Australia.

Carnitech

Starting out as a meat processing equipment manufacturer nine years ago, Carnitech A/S soon realized that its future lay in another direction. The company has been producing a full line of seafood processing equipment since 1983, while its meat equipment business has been taken over by a subsidiary.

Public relations manager Dan Reedtz explained that initially the outfit began building machinery for trawlers, equipping over 140 ships. Two years ago it was realized that the trawler business would not expand forever, so attention was turned to land-based installations as well.

The firm's range includes graders, cookers, tunnel freezers, software and customized equipment to meet particular needs. With special expertise in setting up entire factories, Carnitech combines specifications from other manufacturers with its own when needed.

Currently under development is a shrimp conditioning system. With equipment now being used, it takes 12 to 18 hours to loosen the shell before shrimp can be peeled. The new machinery, which is expected to be ready by the end of the summer, will shorten this time considerably and result in a higher quality product.

In connection with the American seafood company Arctic Alaska, Carnitech has developed a loin cutter for pollock. Used on factory ships, it allows the loin to be cleanly removed while the rest of the fish can be used for surimi production.

Coating equipment has been produced for Danish Distillers, which is part of Danisco. It seems they developed a diced potato coating to be used in place of breadcrumbs on a variety of products. Initially made for Findus, Carnitech was called upon to design machinery to meet the requirements of this coating.

Apart from Europe, the Pacific region has been targeted for expansion. A subsidiary was opened two years ago in Thailand, where the company's first venture was a complete shrimp processing plant for Aquastar. Another factory has been built in Pakistan.

Beck Kartonnage

Situated on the beautiful island of Bornholm, Beck Kartonnage makes only one item, but it makes it very well. The fish block liner is a waxed box which fits inside a frame used for freezing blocks in plate freezers.

Soren Madsen explained that the firm got into business 25 years ago when the Espersen seafood company, also located on Bornholm, received a contract to supply cod blocks to McDonald's in the USA. The fast food chain's stringent quality control program demanded that the blocks be packaged in materials superior to those then being used. New liners were developed which helped produce a better block, pleasing McDonald's which in turn placed bigger orders to put Beck on the road to becoming the world's No. 1 supplier.

Apparently, there is a lot more to making these boxes than meets the eye. Mr. Madsen stated that in order to prevent dehydration, the liner must actually freeze to the product itself. To accomplish this, Beck lines paperboard with a thin coating of wax which is formulated to safely come into contact with food. There is a very thin line between using too much or too little wax. If too much is used, the wax sticks to the product. Not enough and air gets in, producing a dry fish block.

Beck uses very modern equipment in its plant to insure uniform quality and close tolerances. An in-house lab tests all raw materials and finished products.

With annual production of 40 million units, Beck supplies 30-40% of global demand. Ninety percent of the production is exported to 25 countries from the firm's 4,500 square meter factory.

Norfo

Just down the road from Beck is Norfo, which concentrates on making seafood processing equipment. Sales Manager Kai Hansen told QFFI that the 10 year old company is owned by a man who has a background as a production manager in fish plants. This is a great advantage as he obviously knows what processors want most from their equipment.

Norfo makes a wide range of machinery including graders, box washers, handling systems and glazing equipment. It has supplied all of the local plants which include Espersen, FS0 and Nordfillet, among others.

Mr. Hansen said that Norfo's cutting equipment for fish blocks reduces the raw material down to individual portions without using any labor. The machinery has proven very popular, and installations have been made at Thorfisk and Rahbekfisk plants in Denmark as well as at the U.K. factories of Ross, Birds Eye and Findus. Interest has been shown by concerns in the USA and Australia as well.

A new computerized portioning cutter can reduce fillets to any desired weight. Fish is scanned for optimum cuts, and incisions can be made at up to a 15% angle to create more of a fish shape. The first one is currently in operation in Norway.

Waste water treatment equipment has become important as processors conform to environmental regulations. Norfo has developed a system which separates offal, grease and fat from the water which can then go through a municipal sewer system without incurring surcharges.

The company has always been strong in Eastern Europe. So while business is good, little change has taken place since the economic and political upheaval. Commenting on the situation, Mr. Hansen said, "Demand has been there for a long time, but money has not been there and is still not there."

Svendborg Fabrikker

Since the Danisco takeover of vegetable producer Svendborg Fabrikker at the end of last year, this writer has detected a new air of optimism at the company. Commenting on conditions under FDB ownership, export manager Niels Sigh stated, "There were no missions concerning export. FDB was mainly involved with supplying their own stores."

Danisco, however, wants to see results internationally and has a clear vision of where it expects Svendborg to be a decade from now.

With the Danisco ownership of Frigodan, the two companies now have the capacity to produce 20,000 to 25,000 tons of peas per year, of which up to 18,000 are slated to be sold on foreign markets. Most of this tonnage will be top grade, which, according to Mr. Sigh, is where increases in demand are seen.

Concerning potential competition from Eastern bloc countries, the export manager conceded that this was a threat which nobody could have anticipated. However, he feels that at least initially, quality from the de-Communizing suppliers will be lower than what most customers require.

The company's stir-fry range continues to do well, and several pasta and vegetable items have been added to fit in with the green movement. Two new defrost-and-eat salads, Hawaiian and Mexican, have been added as well.

Kirk Food

Kirk Food was added to the Danisco stable last March. Only five years old, the producer of high quality ready meals had been struggling since its inception before finally going bankrupt in July of 1989. The Vebaek-based company is now a part of Svendborg whose former managing director, Jorgen Ludvigsen, has been put in charge.

One of the problems with Kirk's product range was that its packaging featured two-portion boxes, making each purchase quite expensive and also eliminating people living alone as potential customers. All items are now packed in single-portion sizes, making them more saleable.

The quantity of products available was also too extensive, numbering about 70. Offerings have now been scaled down to 20, mostly private labels.

Mr. Ludvigsen explained that sales have already increased since the Danisco takeover. Being apart of Svendborg, Kirk's use of the parent company's sales force has no doubt helped matters.

In addition to soups, the retail product line includes meat, fish and chicken ready meals. On the catering side, meals and meat sauces are being supplied to the U.K. Plans are to build up the range once the core offerings have been firmly accepted.

Kirk's small but very modern production plant is running one full shift at the moment, but this is likely to be boosted soon. When Mr. Ludvigsen referred to the factory as a "large pilot plant," he gave a clue as to future expectations.

Hatting Bageri

In March of 1989, baked goods producer Hatting Bageri introduced frozen garlic bread. According to export manager Torben Juul, this was done to satisfy the U.K. market, where retailers were demanding that it be part of a full range. In May of this year in France, the product won an award as "best frozen food" in a competition held in conjunction with the upcoming SIAL exhibition.

It's hard to say whether or not garlic bread helped sales in the U.K., but there has been an increased demand for the company's bake-off Danish pastry. Tesco took the line on last September and Sainsbury began a test in June.

In other export markets, Germany has witnessed growth in frozen bread demand, and a sister company has been opened in Sweden. Some interest has been expressed in the USA, and the market is currently being studied.

As for new items, a pre-proved croissant has been introduced to the bake-off segment, while pita bread is now available in retail and catering packs.

Daloon

As one of the few processors that has not been bought out or the subject of a merger, it is refreshing to see spring roll maker Daloon doing just fine under private ownership. The Nyborg company, which is 30 years old this year, saw a 10% increase from its Danish plants in 1989. A second factory has been opened in the U.K. to boost volume.

Marketing manager Per Bo Christensen attributes the firm's success to having adapted its product range to fit in with consumer demands for convenience and health. Different rolls have been developed to cater to tastes in a variety of countries.

The green movement, for instance, has had a big effect on Daloon's products. For Germany, a whole meal roll was launched and is doing well. Available for catering, two microwaveable vegetable souffles have been introduced. Sold in Austria, Germany and Denmark, the souffles come with either broccoli or cauliflower.

PHOTO : Since its inception in 1981, over fifty Cabinplant blancher/coolers have been sold to vegetable processors worldwide. The popular machine reportedly saves on energy while producing better quality products and higher yields.

PHOTO : It may look like beef, but this Nutana Burger is made entirely from vegetables. Nutana has re-formulated its whole range to appeal more to people who are basically meat eaters.

PHOTO : Henning Krustrup, managing director of Mette Munk.

PHOTO : Nutana's managing director, Tue Westing.

PHOTO : Schur International's versatile Joker system provides a unique solution for products packaged in plastic bags.

PHOTO : Ole Lassen (r) has returned to Brodrene Gram to take charge of the industrial refrigeration sector. Marketing manager H.J. Knudsen is now running the ice cream equipment division.

PHOTO : Jorgensen Engineering sales manager Bent Jensen proudly stands next to equipment ready for shipment to a bean processor in Belgium.

PHOTO : Dan Reedtz of Carnitech with one of the firm's popular shrimp cooking machines.

PHOTO : Soren Madsen with some of the high tech equipment which has helped Beck Kartonnage become the world's No. 1 maker of fish block liners.

PHOTO : Kai Hansen expects this new fish portion cutter to be a big success for Norfo.

PHOTO : Pasta is trendy and the green movement says vegetables are in, so this stir-fry meal from Svendborg should be a success.

PHOTO : Described as a "large pilot plant," the ready meal production line at Kirk Food may be small but it is very modern and efficient.

PHOTO : Kirk Food's line of ready meals has been down-sized from double to single portion packs, making them more affordable to the price conscious and more convenient for one-person households.

PHOTO : Torben Juul, export manager for Hatting Bageri, notes that the company's garlic bread has won a SIAL-sponsored award as "best frozen food."

PHOTO : Spring roll maker Daloon has launched two souffles for the catering market, broccoli and cauliflower (pictured).
COPYRIGHT 1990 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Danish frozen food industry
Author:Williams, Andrew H.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Words:6471
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