Over the weekend of September 6-8 the Food Organisation of Denmark delivered a first rate consumer show which inspired and delighted visitors to Aarhus (foodfestival.dk/en/om-food-festival). Last year the show attracted 30,000 visitors and with sunny weather this year it is likely that this figure was exceeded.
The setting was idyllic. Next time you are incarcerated at the NEC or Excel think about this: a green field, gently sloping down to a lake, grass underfoot and the whole bathed in gentle Danish sunlight. Every stand was housed in a white canvas tent, resulting in the best County Show you never saw. And only 10 minutes from the centre of town.
There was the full gamut of food and drink. There was liquorice with everything: chocolate, candyfloss (black candyfloss for Goths?), even mixed with salt – surprisingly delicious. There were wonderful craft beers, with and without liquorice. There were sheep, pigs and chickens. There was a LOT of organic – I estimate 50% of the fruit and vegetable producers were organically certified. There were some delicious seaweeds. There was Boris Buono, who having left Noma now sells organic fish soup outside nightclubs and organises food happenings in his front room. There was masses of stuff for kids to do – I liked bowling with squashes . And there was nanotechnology, research into increasing the vitamin D content of mushrooms and the University of Aarhus finding out whether you can grow organic Stevia in Denmark. In short something for everyone.
Here are my top three products from the show
▪ Thisted Bryghus Stenol No 5 beer
Not only was this a terrific drink but it is made in a brilliantly bonkers way. Take lumps of volcanic lava. Heat them to 600C. Drop them into the wort. They will caramelize the sugars and develop a lovely sweet toffee flavor which then persists into the finished brew
▪ Unika range of high-end boutique cheeses
What do you do to make consumers love you when you a boring old multinational dairy conglomerate? Spend ten years developing immaculate boutique cheeses that you only sell to 30 restaurants. The way Arun Prabhu (Arla Commercial Innovation Director) put it, the relationship between Unika and Arla mirrors that between Ferrari and Fiat – there will be diffusion benefits, but in the meantime there are fantastic and ground-breaking cheeses
▪ Skyr soft-serve ice-cream
Skyr (no, me neither) is strained yoghurt from Iceland. In the hands of the clever chaps at Unika it is transformed into the worlds first ever delicious soft-serve ice cream – high protein, low fat, low sugar. And it was served topped with dried beetroot. And liquorice. Of course.
And finally one I found over dinner at French/Danish Bistro ET, in the company of knowledgeable FOODy Kasper Fogh
▪ Jacobsens Dark Lager
Looks like a micro-brew, actually it is produced by Heineken but using a recipe from 1854. Packs a punchy 5.4% ABV without tasting like it.
So lots of innovation, lots of visitors, lots of sun, lots of fun. Highly recommended for next year !
By Simon Wright
Organic and Fairtrade brand specialist
Simon Wright is the founder of OF+ Consulting. A former technical director at Green & Black’s and Whole Earth he is one of the foremost brand advisers to the natural and organic sector.