Danish Crown: Feeding the Future
Danish Crown, one of the world's largest exporters of pork meat and one of Europe's tops five producers of beef, faced increasing headwinds in 2021, making CEO Jais Valeur feel like the core of the meat business was under attack. As a cooperative and prominent player in Denmark's high-standard agriculture sector, the company had particular responsibilities and constraints including a high labor and production cost and strict regulatory environment. More recently growing concerns over climate change had led to increasing criticism of the environmental impacts of livestock production. Consumers in Denmark and worldwide were turning away from meat, for its climate impact but also for concerns about animal welfare and their own health. The case discusses these industry trends and describes Danish Crown's efforts to respond by transitioning to a more sustainable company, with several initiatives and investments underway to meet its ambitious carbon reduction targets. Valeur was convinced that sustainability leadership was the only way to keep its customers, add value to commodity parts of the business, and earn the "license" to keep operating in the future. However, the more the company publicized its efforts, the more it got under attack from environmental activists for alleged "greenwashing". Just like many of its peers, Danish Crown's management team needed to devise a strategy that would allow for its survival despite the growing adverse trends.