31 March 2017

Food production in Greenland: Collaboration is key


A stronger collaboration between large and established as well as small and new food producers might be the key to increased, better and more valuable food production in Greenland. That was one of the conclusions at the "Greenlandic Label" conference in March in Nuuk, Greenland. The conference was facilitated by Arctic Business Network.

It was quite telling that some of the participants and invited stakeholders from Iceland, Denmark and even other parts of Greenland, were not able to make it to the conference due to bad weather: Food production and not least distribution of food can be a challenge in the Norther parts of the globe. 

Nevertheless around 40 stakeholders from all parts of the food industry chain from the small local producer to the Ministry of Hunting and Fisheries were present when the conference "The Greenland Label - quality food from the Arctic" took place in Nuuk on the 22. March 2017. 

The conference was held at the university and researchers also participated alongside with the representatives from business organisations, the veterinarian authorities and trade unions. 

Everything is small scale - quality is essential 

At the conference both rules and regulations, cultural issues and food security was discussed. 

One of Greenlands largest food producers - Royal Greenland - argued that it is important to note, that all food production in Greenland, including their own part of the fishing industry, is to be considered small scale. As a consequence it is of extreme importance to focus on quality and to not lower the standards of hygiene and food security. If the standards are lowered it could potentially jeopardize the opportunities for export. This topic has been widely discussed for years as many small scale producers feel that the strict hygiene rules imposed is an obstacle to an increased production. 

Companies should collaborate more 

Another issues which was vividly discussed was the need for support for the food producers. As many producers are one man companies it can be a significant burden to oversee all parts of the value chain in order to expand the business. Often the producer will focus on the product and not have the time or the knowledge to attend to price setting, profit margins, marketing efforts or to obtain knowledge about the often complicated rules for export. 

The conference participants agreed that there is an obvious need to collaborate more and that a forum for such a collaboration needs to be set up in order to help producers overcome the many steps towards a successful food business. 

Conference report on the way 

The results from the conference will be published in a seperate report. The results and the many inputs from the stakeholders will also be inluded in "The Arctic as a food producing region" project.