Economics and business
Denmark’s business sector is dominated by service and service industries and a modern industry, while the previously important agriculture now contributes only a small part of GDP. A small domestic market and a shortage of industrial raw materials make the country highly dependent on foreign trade.
Until the financial crisis in 2008, the economy was characterized by stable central government finances, low inflation and interest rates, lower unemployment than in other Europe and good growth. In 2008, however, the Danish economy went into recession. The following year, GDP fell by 4.9 percent. Since then, it has increased again, and the economy is now slowly recovering after the sharp slowdown in 2008. In 2018, Denmark had a per capita GDP of US $ 60,726. The largest industries were service and service industries, which accounted for 76 percent of GDP, industry accounted for 23 percent and agriculture accounted for only 1 per cent.
The Danish krone is tied to the euro. Since the end of the 1980s, the country has had a surplus in the trade balance. Oil, pharmaceuticals and wind turbines are the country’s most important export goods, but the country also receives large income from transport services and from the tourism industry.
Companies with highest turnover
|Business||Sales 2015 (DKK million)|
|AP Møller – Mærsk A/S||270 100|
|Novo Nordisk Foundation||125 800|
|Novo Nordisk A/S||107 900|
|ISS A/S||79 600|
|Arla Foods||76 600|
|Dong Energy A/S||74 400|
|Carlsberg A/S||65 400|
|Vestas Wind Systems A/S||62 800|
|A/S United Shipping & Trading||61 900|
|DSV A/S||50 900|
Companies with the most employees
|Business||Number of employees in 2015|
|ISS Holding A/S||509 200|
|AP Møller – Mærsk A/S||88 400|
|Carlsberg A/S||47 500|
|Novo Nordisk A/S||41 100|
|DSV A/S||22 600|
|Vestas Wind Systems A/S||19 000|
|Coop Danmark A/S||18 000|
|Dansk Supermarked A/S||16 300|
|Bestsellers United A/S||15 700|
|Danske Bank A/S||13 900|
Agriculture and livestock management
Denmark is a major agricultural nation and one of the world’s leading exporters of processed agricultural products. About 60 percent of the country’s area is used for agricultural production, an internationally very high proportion. More than half of the cultivated area is occupied by grain production. Until the early 1900s, barley was the most important crop, but now more than twice as much wheat is grown as barley.
Economically, pork and milk are the most important agricultural products. Denmark is one of the world’s swineest countries. About 3/4 of the meat, pork, bacon, cheese and butter production is exported. Agriculture, together with fishing and forestry, employs about 2 percent of the workforce and accounts for about 1 percent of GDP.
Around 1900 Denmark was one of the world’s leading exporters of butter, cheese and meat. However, competition increased gradually, and especially during the decades after the Second World War, the provision of agricultural policy in the Western European states, which with various contributions favored domestic production, became more difficult. Denmark’s accession to the EC in 1973 also changed in many ways agriculture’s production and marketing conditions.
Increased specialization and the need for ever-greater investments have made it necessary to merge farms into ever-larger farming units. In 2009, there were 41,400 farms over 5 hectares, which was almost half as many as 1950. Mechanization in agriculture has meant that the proportion of employed has gradually decreased from 21 percent in 1950 to about 2 percent in 2011.
Characteristic of Danish agriculture is the role played by various cooperative associations and the agricultural cooperative. In addition to food industries, such as dairies and slaughterhouses, these also operate purchasing associations and export companies. Within the agricultural cooperative, Denmark is a leading country (the first cooperative dairy started in 1882 and the first cooperative slaughterhouse in 1887), and the cooperative’s way of working has been a role model for many countries.
About 10 percent of Denmark’s land area is covered by forest, of which more than half is planted coniferous forest. The natural forest is dominated by beech. Over the past 50 years, between 1.5 and 3 million m 3 timber have been harvested each year. Every year, almost 10 million Christmas trees are exported from Denmark.
The state owns more than 30 percent of the productive forest land, while most of the remainder is privately owned. As many as 90 percent of forest property is related to agriculture. They are, in most cases, very small, which makes it more difficult for rational forestry.
Denmark is one of the 15 largest fishing nations in the world in terms of catch volume. In 2009, approximately 780,000 tonnes of fish were caught, while approximately 34,000 tonnes were grown. However, the value of the catches is not proportional to the amount, as more than 80 percent of the catch consists of less valuable small fish, called industrial or feed fish.
Fishing in the North Sea mainly includes cod, plaice and herring. Although shrimp and lobster is of great economic importance. The North Sea and the Skagerrak are the most important catchment areas, and the largest fishing ports (Esbjerg, Hirtshals, Thyborøn, Hanstholm, Hvide Sande and Skagen) are all located in western and northern Jutland.
Raw material resources and energy supply
Compared to most other Western European countries, Denmark has small commodity resources. However, the country is self-sufficient with limestone, chalk and clay as well as with sand and gravel (see natural gravel). The mining of limestone, which is used for cement production, mainly takes place along the Limfjord in northern Jutland.
Denmark’s most important raw material resources are now crude oil and natural gas, which are extracted in the Danish sector of the North Sea. Oil production began in 1972 in the so-called Dan field, 200 km west of Esbjerg, and since then it has been expanded to further fields. The recovery has tripled since the mid-1980s, reaching a maximum during the first half of the 00’s of about 18 million tonnes of crude oil per year. Since then, production has dropped continuously. Natural gas is also extracted in the North Sea, since the first gas pipeline between the fields and Jutland was completed in 1984. At the beginning of the 00s, 11 billion m 3 of natural gas was extracted per year, but the figure has since dropped somewhat.
Denmark has a relatively high energy consumption, which in 2009 was covered by 39 percent of oil and oil products, 21 percent of coal and 20 percent of natural gas. Of the remainder, renewable energy sources accounted for 19 percent. From 2000, Denmark has produced more energy than was used, and the surplus increased until 2005. Thereafter, the energy surplus has decreased, but the country still has a significant surplus. Large quantities of coal are imported into the thermal power plants. Water production is insignificant, and Denmark has no nuclear power plant. A decision not to build a nuclear power plant was made in 1980. Wind energyand smaller, straw-milled power plants have become increasingly important in recent years, especially in rural areas. In 2009, Denmark was the country with the largest share of wind energy in total energy production, exceeding 20 percent. Denmark’s electricity grid is connected to other Nordic countries. With good water supply, Sweden and Norway supply electricity to Denmark, while the reverse occurs during rainfall periods.
Together, the industry accounts for just under 15 percent of employment in the country and contributes about 22 percent to GDP. Denmark is a highly developed industrial country despite limited commodity resources. Manufacturing is versatile and compared to other industrialized countries, the large proportion of small businesses is striking.
The extensive agriculture is the basis for the food industry, which mainly comprises slaughterhouses, meat and canning industries, dairies and breweries. It employs about 15 percent of industrial workers in the country and accounts for 27 percent of the industry’s total production value. Within the industry there are some of Denmark’s largest industrial groups, such as the Carlsberg group and Tulip (slaughterhouses and meat processing).
From the employment point of view, the engineering industry is the country’s most important industrial industry (comprising about 30 percent of both industry employment and its production value). Important workshop products include motors, industrial, agricultural and household machinery as well as electrical and electronic instruments. Major engineering groups are Danfoss A/S (temperature and flow automation) and Vestas Wind Systems A/S.
In the engineering industry, there are also several companies with very specialized manufacturing and worldwide markets. One such niche company is Brüel & Kjær A/S (electrical, electronic and acoustic measuring instruments). The largest industrial sectors also include the chemical, which accounts for 6 percent of industrial employment and 11 percent of industrial production value. It is highly automated and includes oil refineries and petrochemicals, plastics and plastics manufacturing and the production of artificial fertilizers within Superfos A/S, one of the country’s major industrial groups. The industry also includes the pharmaceutical industry, which is represented by, among others, Novo A/S, which is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of insulin and enzymes for the industry.
Other industrial industries include the furniture industry, glass and porcelain industry and toy manufacturing (LEGO A/S), with products known far outside the country.
In recent decades, major changes have taken place with regard to the location of the industry in the country. The Copenhagen region has lost its former dominance, in favor mainly of industrial areas on Funen and Jutland. However, the Copenhagen region is still Denmark’s most important industrial area. Other industrial centers are Odense, Aalborg and Aarhus.
Because Denmark has a relatively small domestic market and at the same time lacks many important commodities, foreign trade plays a major role in the country’s economy. In relation to the number of residents, foreign trade is also larger than in most other countries. Exports account for 31 percent of the country’s GDP, and the corresponding proportion for imports is 26 percent. Exports in 2010 mainly contributed goods from industry (73 percent), from agriculture, fishing and the food industry (together 11 percent) and from the energy industry (10 percent). Imports during the same year primarily included raw materials, parts for workshop production and food. Previously very large expenditures for oil and oil products have decreased significantly in recent years, which contributed to the fact that since the beginning of the 1970s, the trade deficit recorded in the late 1980s turned into annual surpluses. Thus, since 1986, the value of the country’s exports has been greater than the value of imports.
According to Countryaah, exports are mainly to Germany, Sweden and the UK, while imports are mainly from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Tourism and gastronomy
Denmark is visited annually by almost 5 million tourists, mainly Germans and Scandinavians. Foreign visitors mainly appreciate the many beaches, the pubs in the countryside, the charming medieval towns and not least Copenhagen. Most overnight stays come from leasing Danish-owned summer houses along Jutland’s west coast and on Bornholm. Greater Copenhagen has pleasure tourism and business travelers. In addition, there are several large amusement facilities, e.g. Legoland ® in Jutland and a number of amusement parks that serve as central points of interest.
Most visited tourist destinations
|tourist destinations||Visit 2014|
|Tivoli, Copenhagen||4 478 000|
|Bakken, Klampenborg||2 500 000|
|Legoland ®, Billund||1 700 000|
|Zoo, Copenhagen||1 136 800|
|The Blue Planet, Copenhagen||768 000|
|Djurs Sommerland,||705 100|
|Louisiana, Bumblebee||647 900|
|Lalandia, Billund||617 300|
|National Museum, Copenhagen||591 400|
|Faarup Sommerland||586 400|
|Round Tower, Copenhagen||538 800|
|Aarhus Kunstmuseum (Aros)||535 900|
|Lalandia, Rødby||510 900|
|Dengamleby, Aarhus||499 200|
|Aalborg Zoo||415 800|
|Tivoli Freedom, Aarhus||402 000|
|Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen||378 200|
|BonBon-Land, Holme – Olstrop||370 000|
|New Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen||360 100|
|Odense Zoo||339 700|
|Givskud Zoo||300 100|
|Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen||276 100|
|The Rosenborg Collection, Copenhagen||269 000|
|Kronborg, Helsingør||250 600|
|Randers Rainforest||247 000|
Although fertile, Denmark has a gastronomy characterized by thrift. Foreign influences have mainly come from the south, Schleswig-Holstein and the Netherlands – while local dishes are spread – and formed a national school, with the fishermen, who gladly rented themselves in foreign villages for a couple of months and thus brought “foreign” recipes, often from Jutland to eastern Zealand. Fish has always been the obvious everyday food for the majority of the population.
In northern Jutland it is often served with lingonberries, further south with apples, pears or prunes. Smoked pork cubes for fish are one of the few national features in the food industry. In western Jutland and Bornholm, the fish is sometimes served with brown onion sauce, similar to that poured over steak or pan steak. However, the fish dishes for the tourist are mainly fried or double-breaded, perhaps shrimp-filled, woodpecked, smoked herring on Bornholm and smoked or fried eel.
Although the farming population kept up with cows (up to the turn of the 1900s often also with sheep), the pork is by far the most popular. The sausage culture extends far beyond the obligatory red sausage; the German influence is clear. Pork roast or sirloin, the former with red cabbage and ball potatoes roasted in sugar, the latter (pork fillet) with prunes, apples and cream sauce, are traditional Sunday dinners. Christmas is commenced with goose, or more recently duck, filled with prunes and apples. The New Year traditionally means boiled cod. While finding Danish butter at heart when every business on the continent, it has always been the most common to use pork floats on rye bread in Denmark. This leads to the most well-known phenomenon in the context of tourism – butter sandwiches. The diminutive work of art, where the bread slab should only be seen, not visible under the layers of toppings, is a relatively late phenomenon and without roots in the impoverished peasant or fishing villages. From the beginning, a butter sandwich was just what it sounds like, a slice of bread covered with float or in festive cases butter. At the party one could hit big and bid on the tire smørrebrød, which, through tourism, then became a national dish and lost the tire in the past (‘covered’).