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New Nordic Food is just food

The concept “New Nordic Food”, which promotes specifically Nordic ingredients and culinary traditions, will probably remain a niche, and in the long run will come to be regarded as just food. However, the values behind the concept will live on. Such are the conclusions of a report from Aarhus University.

[Translate to English:] Begrebet ny nordisk mad indeholder gode værdier, men betragtes stadigvæk som en niche. Foto: Colourbox

Crisp ramson leaves fresh from the forest, fresh oysters from Danish waters and Jerusalem artichokes dug up from the Danish soil, arranged stylishly simple on a plate in a specifically Nordic manner. This is what most consumers associate with the concept “New Nordic Food”. The question is whether we have actually adopted the concept. Is new Nordic food something we cook and use on a daily basis – or is it just a concept for connoisseurs?


Researchers from Aarhus University have analysed the market impact and potential of the values and competences inherent in new Nordic food, and their results have now been published in a report by DCA - Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture.


The researchers have come to the conclusion that new Nordic food will most likely remain a niche for some time and in the long run come to be considered as just food.


Market potential of new Nordic food

The concept of new Nordic food was invented ten years ago, when the Nordic Council of Ministers launched initiatives towards promoting and strengthening the competitiveness of the Nordic countries in the global food market. A decade later, a group of researchers decided to find out whether Nordic food actually has sufficient market potential in the domestic market and the export markets.


To answer this question the researchers conducted a survey questioning key players in the Danish food industry, including large and small food manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and the tourism industry. The respondents were asked to assess whether the values and competences inherent in the concept of new Nordic food contribute to creating a perceived value for their customers and a financial return for their companies.


Most of them replied that they still find new Nordic food to be very much a niche, a concept that only few people have taken on. The Nordic products have become more accessible, but the demand has not taken proper hold. Some of the respondents expressed the view that Nordic food can only be exported as a phenomenon, not as actual products. Overall, the respondents emphasised that the lack of culinary cohesion in the Nordic countries is a challenge to export ventures in this field.


The researchers worked with five possible scenarios suggesting that Nordic food will:

  • disappear once the trend changes
  • remain a niche
  • be exported
  • become more widely known and receive more support
  • come to be considered just food


Based on the interviews, the authors of the report conclude that new Nordic food will likely persist as a niche and, in the long term, will come to be considered just food. However, the values that are inherent in the concept are not likely to disappear – quite the opposite.


- The values of new Nordic food are ideals that should be generally applicable to Danish food products and not just the ones that are part of the new Nordic kitchen, say the researchers. They found a clear tendency for people in the Danish food industry to focus on selected aspects, primarily local products, taking into account the season and the interest in the products.


- In the long term, people will come to perceive new Nordic food as just food, and more consumers and food manufacturers will focus on the set of values and competences on which the concept is based, but will not necessarily present them as specifically new Nordic, the researchers claim.


Manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen

The aims of New Nordic Kitchen are:

1.  To express the purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics we wish to associate with our region.

2.  To reflect the changing of the seasons in the meals we make.

3.  To base our cooking on ingredients and produce whose characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters.

4.  To combine the demand for good taste with modern knowledge of health and well-being.

5.  To promote Nordic products and the variety of Nordic producers – and to spread the word about their underlying cultures.

6.  To promote animal welfare and a sound production process in our seas, on our farmland and in the wild.

7.  To develop potentially new applications of traditional Nordic food products.

8.  To combine the best in Nordic cookery and culinary traditions with impulses from abroad.

9.  To combine local self-sufficiency with regional sharing of high-quality products.

10. To join forces with consumer representatives, other cooking craftsmen, agriculture, the fishing, food, retail and wholesale industries, researchers, teachers, politicians and authorities on this project for the benefit and advantage of everyone in the Nordic countries.


Click here to read the report "Ny nordisk mad 10 år efter. En analyse af den markedsmæssige betydning af og potentiale i ny nordisk mad" (New Nordic Cuisine 10 years later. An analysis of the market impact and potential of New Nordic Cuisine), DCA report no. 49, November 2014 (in Danish only).


For further information please contact: Klaus G. Grunert, MAPP - Centre for research on customer relations in the food sector, email: klg@badm.au.dk, telephone: +45 8716 5007, mobile: +45 4038 5319