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Faltering economies, devaluations eating into exporters' profitability.

Frigoscandia's goal of being able to provide complete processing lines is beginning to show results. An order was received not long ago from a European processor for a DSI Portioner, a batter-breading unit and GCO oven from Stein, plus a Gyro-Compact freezer, a FrigoPak refrigeration plant and computer controls from Frigoscandia Freezer.

ABB Stal Refrigeration

The most visible change at refrigeration and freezing equipment manufacturer Stal is its new name. At company headquarters in As Continental sales outside of Germany are getting tougher to make money on, smart marketers are looking elsewhere to sell their products. New emphasis is placed on boosting exports to Asia and North America.

In last year's survey of the Danish frozen food business, it was reported that a good deal of uncertainty was caused over the national vote against the Maastricht Treaty which called for greater European unity. On May 18 of this year, the Danes finally gave their assent, albeit excluding provisions for a common defense and monetary unit.

In spite of this, there now seems to be an even greater uneasiness throughout the industry than during 1992. There is no question that the "yes" vote has created a more positive atmosphere, but greater problems loom on the European horizon.

In this year's exclusive Quick Frozen Food International magazine survey, which included interviews with over 40 processors and equipment manufacturers, the general feeling was not so much one of pessimism about the future but one of uncertainty. The Danes, like people in the rest of Europe, have much to be unsure about these days. Turmoil in Russia, fighting in the former Yugoslavia, currency devaluations in many nations, political scandals in Italy and recessions in nearly all countries have not made for a particularly healthy business environment. Just thinking about all this is enough to make one's head spin -- and in a small, export-dependent country like Denmark, these problems are magnified to an even greater degree.

While these difficulties may not be weighing on the minds of average consumers when they walk into a supermarket to buy a frozen pizza or ready meal, the cost of the product is definitely of concern. Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Finland and the United Kingdom have all devalued their currencies during the past year. To a greater or lesser extent, all of these are export markets for Denmark and the result has impacted heavily on profitability. For instance, the British pound is worth about 15% less against the Danish krone than it was a year ago. Any company wishing to stay in that market is going to have to take a strong hit on its bottom line or risk losing market share.

Denmark's best export market, Germany, has not and probably will not devalue the mighty mark. However, the Federal Republic is experiencing a strong recession which is beginning to affect sales. This is especially true in the in-plant catering field where industrial layoffs have occurred.

While Europe is still the main market for Danish frozen foods, current conditions are causing many processors to look further afield for expansion. Companies which had previously focused only on the Continent are now looking towards Asia and North America.

If some export areas have become difficult, the home market is nearly impossible. Discounting is the order of the day with the retailers constantly bearing down on processors for better prices (see QFFI, April '93, for a complete retail report).

Still, those committed to the market are enjoying success. Emborg Foods, for instance, reported making good progress in catering and retail during the last year -- but it wasn't easy. Commenting on the situation, Managing Director Niels Moller stated, "Retail is simple if you start in Denmark. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere." Hemming Van, Daloon's managing director, put retail conditions in a more succinct context, saying: "We have to get used to this situation being the norm for the '90s."

In an effort to obtain better prices, retailers are demanding that they be allowed to deal directly with a company's product manager. This is changing the way food has traditionally been sold. According to Hans Holst, Frigodan's marketing manager, the vegetable processor no longer has any salesmen on the street. He sees this trend spreading to other countries.

The tough domestic market, however, has not discouraged imports which rose in tonnage by 10.6% in 1992. Import volume now stands at 24.1% of the total market.

The big import gainers were poultry and fish, which respectively increased 26.8% and 37%. Dough products from outside markets grew by 30.2% while ice cream increased 20.3%, but the volumes for these items are at lower levels.

Poultry consumption has risen and domestic production probably can't fill the demand. Fish, however, is a different story. Denmark has long been known as one of Europe's top seafood producers, but dwindling quotas and low prices have taken their toll.

It is no secret that the Danish fishery is in bad shape. Cod quotas were fulfilled early in the year and many boats have been tied to their docks since. Fishermen had trouble obtaining even a minimum price for the fish they caught. Optimistic for the future, the government wants to keep the fleet intact for when quotas are increased. Erling Hulgaard of the Fisheries Ministry explained that on the Baltic island of Bornholm boat owners were paid a salary and expenses until July 1, when the season for Baltic herring began. The only problem is that no one in Western Europe wants Baltic herring due to its small size and texture. The plan is that the government will pay the fishermen for the herring and will then give it to east European countries, such as Estonia and Latvia, which will hopefully then pay to have some of the processing done in Denmark.

Unfortunately for the processors, there are no subsidies available to help them get through this difficult period. Without the throughput to keep their plants going, many have already closed their doors -- the most notable being the large Paul Agnar concern.

However, it's an ill wind that does no one good and the closing of some weak plants has strengthened others. Lars Taabbel of P. Taabbel & Co. commented that his company was very busy with work they had picked up from Agnar's previous customers.

Foodmark has increased its market share due to plant closings, according to Poul Torring. The seafood conglomerate, which owns Rahbekfisk and Thorfisk among others, is mainly involved with value added items which differentiates their products in the marketplace and helps profitability. Asked to comment on the current situation, the company director stated: "The market is not as bad as it used to be. I think we have seen the bottom. However, people are much more price conscious than before. If we can keep prices relatively stable, I think we will see an increase because consumer preference for fish is still there."

While the appetite may still be there, consumers aren't as particular about species as they used to be. Hake and pollock have replaced cod on many European menus, and the haddock market was described by Torring as a "disaster."

Regardless of difficult market conditions, statistics portray a brighter and, perhaps, more compete story. Head of Dybfrostradet (the Council of the Danish Frozen Food Industries) Svend Aage Hedegaard has been relentless in his efforts to collect accurate and meaningful figures on frozen food consumption and production. The resultant numbers are now more precise than ever, but because some new sub-categories have been created, comparison with previous years for certain items is pointless.

Total consumption was up 2.2%, while on a per capita basis the Danes consumed 44.8 kg. compared with 44 kg. in 1991. This is the most modest gain in over 10 years, but retains Denmark's lead over its European rivals and places it second in per capita consumption to only the USA. Microwave oven ownership now stands at 28%. Helped by a long, hot summer, ice cream consumption rose 8% to 9.8 liters per capita in 1992.

Vegetables and fruit increased 2.8% after experiencing a decline of 6.7% in 1991. Peas were the only big percentage gainer in the category, up 8.6%.

Ready meals, which fell 6.4% in 1991, advanced 4.5% last year. Rising by 24% soups were a big winner in the sector, and China rolls captured another 6% in tonnage. Pizza, long a steady gainer, dropped 8.6%. Meat ready meals fell by 16%.

Meat consumption dropped 1.2%, and it is believed that this was due to the greater availability of chilled products. However, Mr. Hedegaard was quick to point out that much of the meat sold out of the refrigerated cabinet initially arrives at the store in frozen form.

It must be noted that the drop in this sector resulted from declines in beef, pork and lamb. Poultry rose 12.25%, entirely due to value added products. Chicken and turkey parts increased 28% and 48.3%, respectively, while demand for whole birds fell. Poultry ready meals were up 6.9%.

Seafood was the biggest loser in 1992, down 9.5% to 26,380 tons. However, due to problems unique to the seafood industry, accurate figures are hard to come by. It is believed that the volume is under-estimated by at least 4,000 tons.

If one really wants to make dough in Denmark, that's exactly where he should be -- in dough products, that is. The category rose by 16.5%, supported mainly by untreated products. Unbaked goods going almost entirely to the in-store bakery trade increased 39%. If this trend continues, the corner bakery, so common in Denmark, may go the way of the blacksmith shop.

If slower growth in the home market is a concern to processors, the export scene must be giving cause for greater worry. Foreign sales are the lifeblood of the Danish economy, but frozen food exports grew by a scant 1.6% in 1992 against a figure of +5% for total exports. In 1991, frozen food shipments abroad increased at a rate of 18%.

Here again, a close look at the figures reveals that maybe things aren't as bad as suggested. Due to problems previously pointed out, seafood understandably took the biggest hit. The category, which is by far the biggest in tonnage, dropped 12.4% from 140,286 tons to 122,877 tons.

Dough products may be popular on the domestic market, but exports of same fell 7.9% to 14,840.

Vegetables and fruit decreased by only 1%. Given that due to hot dry weather Denmark had a very bad harvest, one could have expected this figure to be much higher.

Now for the good news. The export winners scored in a big way.

Poultry rose by 18% to 84,912 tons, while ready meals increased 17% to 24,592 tons.

Ice cream racked up a volume increase of 31.8%, rising to a total of 31,408 tons. However, it must be remembered that this is a highly seasonal market and the advance was due entirely to the hotter than normal European summer.

While Dybfrostradet doesn't give value figures (it must be enough of a headache trying to get tonnages), it would be interesting to know this statistic for exports. With the biggest gain in value added categories, it is suspected that the monetary increase is much higher than the rise in volume.

At the organization's Copenhagen headquarters, Svend Hedegaard mentioned that Dybfrostradet had been affected by the economic downturn. After reaching an all-time high of 101 last year, membership now stands at 88. This is entirely due to companies closing or merging with others. However, Dybfrostradet is still very strong and provides a variety of useful services.

At the Council's annual meeting on May 27, the winner of the prestigious Golden Penguin award was announced. Truly an industry honor, products are nominated by and voted on by Dybfrostradet members. All entries must satisfy a consumer need and have been available for sale in the Danish retail or catering market during the previous calendar year. They must also have achieved satisfactory sales figures during the initial launch.

Competing against 39 products from 10 companies, Daloon won the coveted award for a range of spring rolls. Acclaim came not only for their new fillings, but for the way they are packaged. Merchandised in polybags instead of cartons, the packaging is not only environmentally friendly but cheaper for the consumer as well.


Pardon the pun, but Daloon has been "on a roll" these days, with the Golden Penguin award signifying just one of the progressive company's achievements. A new mini spring roll was successfully promoted in McDonald's outlets in Germany and the UK, and the fast food chain is planning another promotion in Britain this August. The bite-size product is now on the menus of other restaurants, and Managing Director Hemming Van is planning a retail launch aimed at the snack food market.

An autumn television ad campaign is scheduled for Denmark, emphasizing the snack aspects of the small rolls. The idea is to not take away from sales of the standard rolls, but to create a new market. According to Mr. Van, this is an important theme at the Nyborg-based company these days as old markets cannot be relied upon to provide growth as they did in the past.

Germany is Daloon's biggest sales territory and has seen the strongest development, but all other markets are in a bit of a lull. Progress in southern Europe has been very encouraging, so the range is being extended with recipes adapted to suit tastes in France, Switzerland and Spain.

Always promotion-minded, Daloon sponsored a BMW race car last year in a successful attempt to reach a key target audience. The company has since bought the car and is displaying it in conjunction with promotions at various supermarkets.


A visit to Aalborg-based Emborg Foods is always of interest because the distributor is involved in so many different areas. Some 75% of the company's sales are made outside Europe, so the whole world is viewed as its market.

According to John Mortensen, product manager, Emborg has been working hard to develop business in eastern Europe and the efforts are beginning to pay off. Stores in Moscow, and cities of the former Czechoslovakia are being supplied. In Riga, Latvia, it is operating a refrigerated van which supplies products directly to supermarkets.

In an attempt to adapt to changing markets, the company has been going through a re-organization process during the last few years. Managing Director Niels Moller explained that Emborg has been supplying American and Canadian armed forces in Germany since 1948, but since the end of the cold war, it has had to scale back operations. The main administration offices in Germany have been closed and the operation moved to Aalborg. However, a sales office will remain in Frankfurt. Mr. Moller stated that the reorganization had been difficult but "so far, the results prove the direction is right."

On the product side, seafood and poultry have seen the biggest increases. To better deal with the specific requirements of fish, a new seafood department has been established to sell fresh and frozen species to industry. Two new assortments of value added seafood are now available for retail and catering customers.


Don't tell anyone at Rahbekfisk how tough things are in the seafood business. Sales manager Obbo Hut explained that 1992 was one of the best years the processor has ever had, as it realized a pre-tax profit of 24 million DKR. Mr. Hut said that prices were more stable last year, thus enabling the company to concentrate on product development and sales instead of price fluctuations.

Since its inception in 1955, Rahbekfisk has been mainly involved with value added products. At this point, it produces everything from fish fingers to a wide array of ready meals, primarily under store brands. The company operates three plants in Denmark and one in the UK which supplies Marks & Spencer. About 96% of the firm's annual output of 20,000 tons is exported to retail chains and distributors throughout Europe.

At the company's headquarters in Fredericia, the sales manager stated that business is increasing nicely in Belgium and in Holland where its line is carried by Albert Hein. Spain is starting to look promising and Italy has always been a strong market. In Switzerland Migros handles the range. Meanwhile, expansion in Austria is being looked at through a Migros acquisition.

The biggest growth is expected to come from Germany in the future. Rahbekfisk is working very hard there now and has gotten the first orders.

While seafood prices may have stabilized, currencies have not. Mr. Hut complained that in Britain sales are up this year but profits are down by 35% due to the devaluation of the pound.


Asked to describe conditions in the European vegetable industry, in May Claus Heinze told this magazine: "The business climate for making money is worse than lousy." In spite of the difficult conditions, apparently Frigodan's upper management thought things could be a bit better and decided to replace the managing director less than two weeks after the interview with QFFI.

In fairness, profitability in frozen vegetables has probably never been worse in Europe -- and the matter was not helped by last summer's drought. Out of a 35,000 ton pea crop Frigodan expected in 1992, only a bit over 18,000 tons was harvested. Although conditions in May looked promising, less acreage was planted for peas this year. Ever optimistic, Frigodan purchased three FMC pea viners in an effort to produce better quality.

At the other end of the Continent, things have fared better. Frigodan's plant in Spain is the best in that country and the most modern corn factory in Europe. The factory operates 12 months per year, processing a wide variety including asparagus, artichokes and cauliflower, although corn represents 40-50% of total output. The devaluation of the Spanish peseta has helped profitability.

Sales manager Hans Holst stated that Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Scandinavia were Frigodan's best markets. Sales have been strong in Germany in retail and home delivery sectors. Business is also being conducted in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Mr. Holst, product development has been the firm's strong point and it has come up with a large range of vegetable mixes and ready meals. Competing on price is no longer enough to win contracts. As consumers have become more demanding, processors are being asked to work closely with the retailers to develop new lines.

The Marco Polo series is the latest range to come out of the Frigodan kitchens. Described as "advanced mixtures" without meat, several items have been developed.

Mette Munk

Summing up the current retail climate, Henning Krustrup, managing director of Mette Munk, commented: "Competition in the retail business has been tough and will be tougher in coming years, especially in the UK." In response, the Odense-based baked goods producer has launched a line of products aimed at the lower price end of the dessert range. Currently sold under private labels through Bilka stores in Denmark and Netto in Germany, the new items are cream tarts available in large and small packs.

Asked if this meant that Mette Munk was compromising the high quality the firm has always been known for, Mr. Krustrup replied: "We have not reduced our concept of quality, but have rationalized production and products to result in lower prices."

What this means is that instead of the high-cost ingredients used in their other products, the new line will take advantage of quality but less costly raw materials. For instance, jam will replace fresh fruit as a topping for tarts.

In an effort to concentrate more on the pure dessert end of the market, the profiterolle range is being extended. The market for standard profiterolles has reached maturity so the line is being diversified by adding different fillings such as chocolate mousse and custard.

Mette Munk's biggest markets are Sweden and the UK, which, unfortunately, have both devalued their currencies. So while sales are up, profits have not kept

pace. Germany, however, was cited as a market of increasing importance.

Brodrene Gram

Ice cream and freezing equipment manufacturer Brodrene Gram had a good year in 1992, but it would have been a great year if the Danes had voted yes to the Maastricht Treaty. According to Soren Gram, everything was rolling along nicely until the third quarter when the company experienced a sharp drop in European orders. He attributes this directly to the uncertainty caused by the no vote.

Fortunately, the Vojens-based manufacturer does a global business so does not rely on any one area. Currently, the Far East and South America are the best markets.

Gram makes a complete range of ice cream machinery and can supply anything from a single piece of equipment to a complete plant. Helped by hotter than normal summers the past two years, the European ice cream market has been booming and Gram continues to supply much equipment to keep up with the demand. Ice cream plants have also recently been sold to customers in the Far East.

On the compressor side, Ole Lassen said that he has noticed a trend towards small ammonia plants and Gram has been quick to fill this need. Apparently, when converting from R-12 to ozone-friendly ammonia compressors, an energy savings of 5-8% can be realized. When used with plate heat exchangers, a relatively low charge of ammonia can be used, effecting greater savings. This is especially good for supermarkets in countries which legally require the use of a charge of less than 50 kg of refrigerant.

Several years ago, a number of manufacturers decided that the future was turning toward screw compressors and thus stopped making the piston variety. Gram continued making both types and is now reaping rewards as there is still a good demand for piston compressors but in a less competitive environment. Piston compressors have been continually developed and recently an industrial designer was hired to make them more user-friendly on a worldwide basis.

Royal Greenland

Last year it was announced that seafood producer Royal Greenland would relocate a major part of its processing operation from Denmark to Greenland. At the company's Aalborg offices, Michael Tommerup advised that the move has been completed and cod and cooked and peeled prawns are now being processed and shipped directly from Greenland to the USA, UK, Europe and Japan. Three factories in Denmark supply smoked products and the Glyngore plant produces ready meals while retail packing of prawns is done in Aalborg.

In a fundamental policy change, the marketing manager told QFFI that the company is shifting away from supplying industrial accounts to working more in the retail and catering fields. This should help it gain the most profit from a limited resource.

With this goal in mind, Royal Greenland has launched two new products which, while not high volume items, are certainly attracting a lot of attention.

Seafood kebabs consist of salmon, scallops and shrimp on a wood skewer. They are IQF-packed for foodservice or as a blister-pack for retail.

Amaebi, or fantail shrimp, have long been popular in the Far East, particularly Japan, where they are used in sushi and sashimi. Royal Greenland, a main supplier to this market, has now gone a step further in producing the finished product.

Both items are expensive and quite labor intensive -- and this is exactly the kind of job Royal Greenland needs. The whole idea of moving production to Greenland was to provide the islanders with more work.

Created as a niche item, Amaebi is proving to be more popular than anticipated. Larry O'Toole, who heads up Royal Greenland's USA operation, said, "We've sold out the first and second orders and we haven't even hit the West Coast (where most of the sushi bars are) yet." He explained that the effort in North America is going well.

It is refreshing to see a European seafood company pursuing the USA market, as most have pulled out due to unfavorable exchange rates. Royal Greenland has made a commitment and its management feels that to be a truly international company, the States can't be ignored. So far the strategy has proven successful, with recent sales having been made to Kroger and other leading chains.


There may be a recession on but it doesn't seem to have affected Cabinplant's business. In fact, the Haarby-headquartered equipment manufacturer is running two shifts for the first time. Vagn Hansen attributes the company's success to the fact that it supplies a wide array of processing machinery and that it operates on a worldwide basis. Niels Sorensen added that while there are fewer but larger processors to sell to, Cabinplant is capable of making the high-capacity machinery needed by these big companies.

Things may have cooled in Western Europe, but the eastern part of the continent is heating up. During the past year, Cabinplant has done business in Russia, the former Czechoslovakia and Poland. Hungary was cited as being of particular interest as the country has attracted a lot of capital from Europe and the USA.

The firm has been active in Southeast Asia as well, working through a licensing agreement with Patkol Ltd. Recent sales include a cooking and cooling line for shrimp and blancher coolers for baby corn, asparagus and pea pods. In China, two complete vegetable lines were installed with Frigoscandia.

In Germany, Cabinplant came up with a unique solution for mixing frozen vegetables. Various varieties are stored in silos and then transferred to hoppers in accordance with a computerized menu. Once the vegetables have been loaded in the silos, the entire operation takes place automatically. The neatest trick is that with the exception of packaging machinery, the entire line is inside a coldstore, operating at -15 |degrees~ C. This allows for better quality and less downtime for cleaning.

In the home market, a complete rice processing line has been installed for a new company called Dan Rice. Water in the system is carefully metered, so that it is all absorbed by the rice, leaving no waste water.

According to Mr. Sorensen, waste water is now the biggest concern of processors, whereas the amount of energy a new line would save was previously of paramount concern. Cabinplant's engineering staff, hard at work on this problem, has come up with solutions for many clients. Waste water is not only an environmental headache, but a problem in areas like the Middle East where water is scarce and expensive.


It's hard to imagine now, but there once was a time when it didn't matter so much if a meat or seafood processor gave away a few grams in some packs. These days with fierce competition and low profit margins, minimization of over-weight packages can add a hefty amount to a firm's bottom line.

To help processors solve this "weighty" problem, Scanvaegt has come up with an ingenious array of grading and weighing equipment. No newcomers to the business, the Aarhus-based company has been selling scales since 1932 and manufacturing electronic weighers since the '70s.

Marketing manager Claus Hebor told this magazine that one of Scanvaegt's advantages is that it makes equipment only for the food industry, which has allowed for concentration on problems specific to the weighing and grading of food. Sales are pretty evenly divided among the meat, fish and poultry sectors.

All Scanvaegt equipment is of standard design, which helps keep costs to a reasonable level. However, the machinery and software is extremely flexible and can be adapted to meet any demands.

The ScanGrader may be used with a wide variety of product shapes and sizes. It is capable of grading to a target weight or target weight and count batch, and is reportedly accurate to within one gram of a given specification. When coupled with a Scanvaegt Image System, eight different product types can be identified during the same production run with a packing speed of up to 240 items per minute.

Such speed and accuracy doesn't come cheap, as ScanGraders cost $50,000-$70,000 each. However, payback periods average between three and six months, which provides an idea of the amount of overpacking that goes on on the typical production line.

All of Scanvaegt's equipment is designed to be as rugged as it is accurate. At trade shows, scales are normally demonstrated by having a hefty salesman jump up and down on one and then showing that it can still measure any weight precisely. All machinery is fully waterproof and can be cleaned with a high pressure hose. The company's on-board scales are legendary in the seafood industry, having demonstrated the ability to work under the most extreme conditions.

Scanvaegt employs 350 people, 25 of whom are engaged in research and development. They have seven subsidiaries in the EEC and distributor networks elsewhere in Europe, including Russia and Poland. The company is also active in South Africa, the Middle East and the USA. In the latter country, poultry giant Tyson has installed as many as 70 ScanGraders.

On a recent job, Scanvaegt installed grading and image system lines in a new plant for Norwegian seafood company Domstein. The fully automated factory, which should be running this summer, has a capacity of six tons per hour and is said to be the most modern of its kind in Europe.

Sabroe Refrigeration

In spite of currency fluctuations and recessions, compressor and refrigeration equipment specialist Sabroe had a fantastic year in 1992. In fact, according to Henrik Thomsen, marketing manager, it was the best in the company's history and marked the first time that two billion DKR in turnover was topped.

The manufacturer is constantly growing and searching for ways in which to better serve its customers. A test center was recently added to the Aarhus headquarters so that clients can actually see how equipment will work under their own requirements. Several subsidiaries have been started and a new, more modern foundry has been built to make castings for compressors.

A major part of Sabroe's success is its ability to come up with needed solutions and refine existing equipment. A new plate heat exchanger has been developed which incorporates several advantages. Using a compact design for easy installation, the chiller units require a lower refrigerant charge than similar equipment. Capacity can also be changed by increasing the number of plate cassettes, adding to the machine's versatility.

Known for containerized refrigeration plants, Sabroe has expanded on this idea with a block ice plant. Built entirely inside a 40' high cube container, the ice plants are factory-assembled and fully tested before shipping. Once on site, the user only needs to hook up electricity and water supply to be in the block ice business. The plants have capacity of 9.2 tons of 25 kg ice blocks per 24 hours. Earlier this year, a number of units were supplied to the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority.

In a move to enhance global competitiveness, Sabroe is expanding in several areas. Through a joint venture in Russia, a new company has been formed to manufacture compressors in St. Petersburg. Another joint venture has begun in India for contracting.

Jorgensen Engineering

"A bean snipper has been a bean snipper since it was invented." So stated Bent Bytoft Jensen in explaining how little development work has taken place with this piece of processing equipment over the years. That is until now.

Jorgensen Engineering has been busy re-designing its large model bean snipper in order to reduce damage and improve product quality. The machine's efficiency and capacity have also been improved. The new snipper, extensively field-tested in three countries this year, will be available for the 1994 season.

Further developments on Jorgensen's blanching machines have made them more energy efficient than other types while producing a better quality product. Apparently, due to the design of most blanchers, the top layer of product tends to become over blanched. Jorgensen has solved this problem by blanching the top and bottom of the product at the same time.

Managing Director Hanne Jorgensen reported that business has been good, but a drop in Europe took place after last year's negative vote on the Maastricht Treaty. However, the company has always had a strong presence in many markets so it is not affected to a great degree by a downturn in any one area. Through the firm's Tripax subsidiary in Australia, Jorgensen has seen an increase in activity in China and the rest of Asia.

As part of the company's overall expansion program, a new administration building was opened last year at the Odense headquarters. This has allowed Jorgensen to boost its engineering and design department considerably.

Hatting Bageri

From its humble beginning as a bread bakery in 1947, Hatting Bageri has grown to become a major producer of frozen bread and pastry items. Named for the town in which it is situated, the company now has over 400 employees and an annual turnover of more than 500 million DKR. Production is exported throughout a major part of Europe, as well as to the USA.

Marketing Manager Niels Ofjord pointed out that a cornerstone of the company's success is the constant development of new products. Hatting recently added traditional Danish pastry to its popular range of pre-proved bake-off items. Called Spandauer, the product consists of a somewhat complex pastry shell with either a raspberry, custard or apricot filling in the middle. It is selling well in the Danish catering market and in instore bakeries in Britain and the USA.

Hatting's products are known throughout Scandinavia, Germany and the UK, and to a lesser degree in the Benelux countries and France. Recently the biggest growth has been seen in the USA. Last year, the Wakefern organization began selling three items through in-store bakeries at ShopRite outlets in the Northeast. Mr. Ofjord informed QFFI that Hatting's products are now being sold as far west as Texas, while some items can be found in major hotel chains. It has also been successful in establishing a broker network, which is imperative for any food company wishing to enter the USA market.

Expanding on its line of frozen bread items, the firm introduced plain and wholemeal pita bread in March. Mr. Ofjord explained that it has been a struggle to get people to switch from fresh pita bread, but the items are proving successful.

Hatting has also entered the highly competitive fast food sector with a hot dog, sausage and hamburger bun. In an effort to get consumers to ask for the items, a television advertising campaign has been launched promoting a contest in which the entrant must come up with a name for each of the three new buns, which are depicted as cartoon characters. In order to do this, they must get entry blanks at hot dog stands and other fast food outlets. Since the company has identified its target market as young males, a 1973 Corvette has been chosen as the grand prize.


Maersk Lines has made further improvements to cement its position as the world's No. 1 reefer container operator. Reefer line department manager Henrik Mauritsen reported that the firm recently purchased EAC Lines. This will allow Maersk to provide customers with better service to growing markets in Asia and Australia.

At Maersk's Copenhagen headquarters, Mr. Mauritsen told QFFI that the company now has 74 container vessels and the reefer container count has grown to 25,000. Among other schedules, it provides six weekly departures between Europe and the Far East, three weekly departures between Europe and North America, and weekly service from North America to the Middle East. The South American market was cited as "booming," and a new 14-day service has been inaugurated between Chile, Peru and Colombia and the East Coast of the USA, where connections are made with Maersk's global network.

In an effort to provide customers with the best possible quality, the newest series of containers is equipped with probes to gauge the cargo pulp temperature to within an accuracy of |+ or -~0.2 |degrees~ C. A "black box" computer measures, monitors and records air and cargo temperatures continuously throughout the container voyage.

With a corporate strategy of being the best reefer carrier, Maersk has selected and trained a full time staff of over 100 people worldwide to provide attention to cargo. Each vessel and terminal has been assigned a quality control staff to monitor and assure safe transport.


The last few years have been a struggle for seafood equipment manufacturer Carnitech. First the trawler market soured and then the land-based processing industry had a downturn. However, Henrik Ziegler now sees a comeback for the Stovring-headquartered company.

The export manager explained that during the boom years, Carnitech outfitted most of the trawlers. Now many of the vessels have gotten to an age where they either need repair or refitting, and Carnitech is enjoying almost 100% of that business.

To better serve this market, a center has been opened in Nuuk, Greenland, to handle that country's trawler fleet. The staff of 15 is also seeing to on-shore installations, as more processing is being done in Greenland. In Alaska, there is a similar facility in Dutch Harbor with a staff of 35.

Carnitech has been active in Southeast Asia for some time, and is now capitalizing on the knowledge gained in working with warm water shrimp. As sales of same are gaining in Europe, Mr. Ziegler is optimistic about opportunities in countries with warm climates. A first order has already been received from Ecuador, and there has been considerable interest from India and the Middle East.

Carnitech's IQF freezing system has been re-developed for greater efficiency and ease of operation. Reportedly, the new freezer is less expensive as well.

Improvements have also been made on the company's thawing machinery. Providing a humidity-controlled environment, the equipment performs the thawing function without leaving black spots on shrimp. A new thawer has already been sold to a major processor.

One of the areas hit hardest by the ailing Danish fishery is the north Jutland town of Hirtshals. Just in time, the Russians have come to the rescue! Apparently, a Russian company called Vitomas is building a salt fish plant in the town and Carnitech has been awarded the contract for the job.


Anyone in the meat industry is familiar with the name Wolfking. For over 40 years, the Slagelse company has been making grinders, mixers, emulsifiers, injectors, tenderizers, massagers, pumps and transport equipment -- everything up to form and fill.

Marketing manager Jacob Dilling Hansen informed QFFI that the biggest part of his business is involved with machinery for sausage and ham making, although a full 25% of production goes to the pet food industry. However, the ground meat and pizza topping industries have become increasingly important. In fact, major lines have been installed at Dawnfarm in Ireland and Rosani in the USA to provide toppings for the Pizza Hut chain.

Wolfking has seen growth in the poultry sector as formed products like chicken nuggets have become popular. However, according to Mr. Dilling Hansen, "The increase we expected has not yet materialized."

With sales and service offices throughout Europe and the USA, Wolfking can quickly respond to customer needs. The company maintains an office in Beijing where 50 people are employed. Wolfking has built the world's biggest sausage plant in China, where 200 tons per day of one type of sausage are produced. Recently, it was asked to expand the capacity to 300 tons per day!


While others might bemoan the downturn in the seafood industry, the attitude of Kai Hansen of Norfo is: "People are still producing and eating seafood. You just have to be where the business is."

This philosophy has worked well for the Bornholm equipment company, whose sales director has been kept quite busy. QFFI caught up with Mr. Hansen at Copenhagen Airport where he was returning from another business trip.

Known for automatic sawing systems, Norfo has expanded on this concept and can now provide automatic systems for loading product into aluminum trays. Used primarily for fish fingers, the machinery has been found to work equally well with other items. Frudesa in Spain and Bonduelle in France are using Norfo equipment on frozen spinach.

In the UK a new multi band saw is being used for lamb chops. Previously cut one at a time, the upgraded machine uses five blades and produces five chops in the same amount of time.

Another system has been sold to an airline caterer for cutting dry ice which is then used in food containers.

The seafood business is still Norfo's main area of activity. Most recently, it has installed trimming tables and equipment for packing, waste handling, block handling and waste water treatment for the fully automated Domstein plant referred to elsewhere in this article.

Peterson Beck

As the world's leading manufacturer of fish block cartons, Peterson Beck provides a good yardstick against which to measure conditions in the seafood industry.

Jorn Pedersen reported that orders were currently running about 15% ahead of production. However, price competition has become extremely tough for the Bornholm company.

The USA market was cited as doing well, and Norway has come back as fishing quotas there have been increased. The biggest growth, however, has come from China and other parts of Asia.

On June 3, the company was awarded the internationally recognized ISO 9000 certificate for quality. The quality control procedures the firm enacted to get the certificate has resulted in an increase in the number of rejected cartons. The majority of these cartons are just missing a trademark or may have a minor blemish which in no way affects performance. Mr. Pedersen noted that they are considering offering these cartons as a second grade line at a lower price.

Danish Prime

Business continues to improve for value added processor Danish Prime. Managing Director Torben Skou reported that the company has doubled its turnover during the last five years.

The firm, which produces a large selection of meat products and ready meals from its Aalborg headquarters and another plant in Faborg, has been particularly successful in exporting.

Danish Prime's major market is Germany, where it is especially strong in catering. Sales in the Federal Republic are up 40% over last year, which Mr. Skou attributed to a lot of hard work and a number of new product introductions. Aided by the EEC's dropping of trade barriers, a new range of raw minced products has been launched. Before January 1, it was not legal to export such items to Germany.

For future growth, Danish Prime is looking at opportunities as a co-packer. In its first involvement in this area, a range of retail ready meals was recently developed for certain customers.


As a large distributor, Nowaco views the entire world as its market. Niels Hjulmand told QFFI that the company's major customers are found in the Mid and Far East, Europe and the USA.

West European recessions aside, the Aalborg-based company has enjoyed strong business and was forced to expand offices last year to keep up with the demand. A total range of products is supplied, although fish sold to industry accounts for half of the turnover.

Nowaco is very bullish on eastern Europe in particular. An office has been established in Hungary, and it has been operating in Czechoslovakia for five years. The 12 people working out of the Prague office are involved with the importation and distribution of a variety of products ranging from fish to french fries. Three refrigerated trucks are used for store deliveries, and land has been purchased for a coldstore which will be built this summer.

Denmark is Europe's biggest exporter of pork, but Mr. Hjulmand noted that the company has recently been offered pork from China at prices which are very tempting. On the sales side, Nowaco is supplying poultry to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.


Due to unusually warm European summers during the last few years, ice cream equipment maker Hoyer has experienced a boom as ice cream processors have been gearing up to meet demand. The biggest market has been for upscale adult-oriented products which require sophisticated equipment to make. At the company's Aarhus headquarters, John Weaver stated that processors are now able to keep pace with the market and consumption in Europe has begun to level off.

However, demand has increased in other areas so business is still quite strong. The USA and South America were cited as being on the rise, but the Far East is the most promising region this year. As Asian economies and wages grow, the market for ice cream is increasing and, unlike Europe, the demand is not seasonal. Hoyer, which has been very active in Asia, recently sold two plants in China.

Introduced at Interpack this year, the company has developed a new automatic transfer unit. Designed to load a wide variety of products into an automatic cartonizer, the Hoymatic is compact and made to fit into many transfer situations. With a maximum speed of 50 strokes per minute, the machine can transfer up to 400 candy bars per minute, or 24,000 items per hour.

A special variable retention freezing system, called Polyflex, has also been designed. Independent control of each product-carrying tray allows for diffrent dwell times for different products as well as product and flavor separation. The flexible freezer is also designed to provide for the discharge of one product type while several other different ones are being loaded.


Understandably, water jet cutter manufacturer Lumetech, has experienced a drop in sales to seafood companies. There just aren't that many fish processors investing in high tech equipment at present. Eager to transfer the technology to other products, the company has designed two new machines for meat and poultry. Presiden Olav Holst explained that while the standard machine worked well with meat products, Lumetech felt that a slightly different approach was needed so it went back to the drawing board and started from scratch.

Utilizing a computerized vision system, a water jet cutter can debone, trim and cut a piece of fish, poultry or meat into smaller pieces of a desired size and weight. Working at high speeds, the machine is able to increase yields and achieve more accurate target weights while cutting down on labor costs.

At Lumetech's Copenhagen headquarters, Mr. Holst stated that the company's equipment performs some of the most labor intensive tasks in food processing and does them more accurately as well. He explained that his machinery not only replaces the cutting process, but also seeing, thinking and decision making functions.

So far, two of the new machines have been sold and the buyers have taken options for more. Fast Food Merchandising in North Carolina has recently taken delivery of the first poultry machine, and Iowa Beef Processing has the first water jet cutter for meat.


It's hard to believe that anything new can be done with a product as basic and widely used as the egg. However, Roskilde-based Danaeg makes only frozen egg products and the inventive firm is always coming up with something new.

Sales and marketing manager Hans Siegfredsen told QFFI that IQF chopped eggs are the firm's latest development. Available in any size specification, the chopped eggs can be used in sandwiches, salads or as pizza toppings.

Product development is driven mainly by the catering market, although industrial accounts are also held, and the retail sector is being eyed. Danaeg has a full range of liquid egg products, pancakes and of course the famous long egg.

Danaeg sells throughout Europe and the Middle East and is looking at the Far East for new growth. Mr. Siegfredsen credited the company's success to a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the worldwide acceptance of eggs. As people have become more conscious of potential health hazards related to the use of shell eggs, pasteurized products are becoming more widely accepted.

In order to maintain quality, Danaeg has its own lab where raw materials are rigorously tested. In fact, the company's bacteriological standards exceed those required by industry.

Danaeg is always working on new products and upgrading existing ones. Without giving too many details, Mr. Siegfredsen revealed that the company is currently exploring further developments in pancakes.


Economically speaking, conditions in Sweden are about as bad as they are anywhere in Europe. Unemployment stands at 8-9%, up from 6% a year ago. Exports are expected to rebound due to a currency devaluation, but an increase has not yet been seen in the statistics.

But anybody who thinks this is leading up to a dire report on Swedish frozen foods couldn't be more wrong. Kjell Olsson, head of Djupfrysningsbryran, the Swedish Frozen Food Institute, happily reported that the total market was up 5% in 1992. However, it should be noted that excluding poultry, business was flat. Retail showed a healthy 10% gain. The catering sector was stagnant after experiencing a 6% decline in 1991.

At the organization's Helsingborg headquarters, Mr. Olsson explained that while people are not buying high ticket items such as cars or appliances, they are spending money on food. In describing the buoyant market, he stated, "We haven't had this kind of increase since the '60s."

Part of the rise in retail can be attributed to a huge upswing in ready meals which grew by 36%. Including catering, the category was up 10%. Early in 1992, Findus and its wholesalers decided to lower ready meal prices so that they would retail at no more than 30 SEK -- some 10 SEK below previous prices. Other processors have since followed suit and apparently they have reached a price point which agrees with consumers. Many people bought ready meals for the first time, were pleased with the quality and have become steady customers.

The biggest increase has been seen in the "light" category. When the Weight Watchers range was launched in Sweden last year, the sector doubled in size.

Looking at the numbers, there were many other products in the plus column. It is interesting to note that statistics for several categories ran contrary to what they were in Denmark.

Vegetables increased 2% to a tonnage of 35,065. The rise was the same for retail and catering.

Seafood grew by 18% at retail, but lost 11% at the catering level. Likewise, fish saw a 6% increase in the stores but dropped 2% in catering. The total category rose 13% in tonnage.

Potato products gained 6%. Retail and catering grew 4% and 9%, respectively.

Bakery items were down by 3%. Apparently, a 13% advance at the retail level was more than offset by a bigger tonnage drop of 6% in catering.

Meat was down by 1%. The drop was the same for both sectors. Poultry, however, continues to gain in popularity. The total increase was 13%. Tonnage rose by 17% at retail and 5% in catering.

Per capita consumption rose nearly 4.5% to 30.4 kg. Sweden retains its position as Europe's number two user of frozen foods, behind Denmark.

For the future, Kjell Olsson is full of ideas for further growth. After 1995, Sweden will enforce high monetary penalties for all CFC products bought. As stores rid themselves of cabinets using CFC refrigerants, they will have the opportunity to re-evaluate how frozen foods are sold and the space they are using. Armed with reports and statistics, the Institute will try to persuade retailers to expand their frozen food departments.

Djupfrysningsbyran, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, will launch a frozen food month promotion in October. Banners proclaiming "Frozen Foods Freshness the Year 'Round" will be displayed in the nation's 2000 biggest stores. There will be a competition among retailers for the best frozen food department, with three winners receiving trips to the USA. At the consumer level, entrants giving correct answers to a quiz will receive food prizes.

All the Institute's members are 100% behind the project and there is strong support among retailers. A very big increase in frozen food sales is expected as a result.


Over the last few years, Frigoscandia Food Process Systems President Staffan Larsson has been faced with a tough job. While the company has been growing rapidly through acquisition, some major markets have been hit with recessions. However, equipment sales for all divisions -- Freezer, Stein, DSI and PPM -- continue to be good and the group as a whole has become more integrated.

Mr. Larsson commented that purchasers are now demanding more from machinery than in the past, and Frigoscandia has been able to meet this challenge. Customers are requiring greater flexibility in use and capacity, and all equipment is designed with this in mind.

Leif Rynnel added that in order to provide clients with better quality and faster delivery times, the company has taken over all product assembly in new manufacturing premises. Equipment formerly built by subcontractors is now manufactured by a new division called ALF, which stands for Assembly and Logistic Facility.

The Freezer division has been active, with GyroCompact spiral units as popular as ever. Over 1,300 have now been sold with recent orders from Delifrance in the UK, the Nestle ice cream plant in Argentina, and three units for Hatting Bageri in Denmark. In the United States, ConAgra found the new GyroStack spiral to be the answer to the problem of wrinkling and sticking of raw chicken fillets.

Stein has been active in all markets and has developed a new HPF-II High Performance Fryer which claims instantaneous, uniform heat control. It has also launched an Automatic Batter Control unit, said to produce better quality products at reduced costs -- even with heavy batter applications.

Long established as the leaders in making water jet cutters in North America, DSI is proving successful in Europe as well. Doux of France, Europe's biggest poultry processor, has taken delivery of equipment for portion controlled fully automated cutting of chicken and turkey. Other machinery for seafood has been sold to Domstein and Skaarfish in Norway, in addition to Thorfisk of Denmark.

A new Cross Cutter has been developed using the same robotics and water jet technology of the Portioner. Designed for cutting large sheets, it is particularly useful in readying pasta into continuous ribbons of predetermined length and shape.

PPM, which specializes in root vegetable processing lines, is enjoying success with potato chips and french fries. Recently it installed the world's biggest fryer -- boasting capacity for three tons of potato chips per hour -- at Flessner in Germany.
COPYRIGHT 1993 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:includes related article; Denmark and Sweden's frozen foods industry
Author:Williams, Andrew H.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Previous Article:Frozen growth strong in 6 EEC countries, but in Britain chilled foods are much hotter.
Next Article:Frozen food packaging and equipment stars at Interpack '93 in Dusseldorf.

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