Danish Crown is a Denmark-based food manufacturer specialising in beef and pork processing, owned by the cooperative Leverandørselskabet Danish Crown AmbA. The company is one of Europe’s largest pork producers and the world’s largest pork exporter, with market access to more than 130 countries. , , , 
In 1998, Danish Crown merged with Danish cooperative slaughterhouse Vestjyske Slagterier. In 2015, the company attempted to merge with its local rival Tican, but this was prevented by Danish competition authorities. , 
According to its 2019/2020 annual report, Danish Crown slaughtered 18 million pigs and 0.8 million cows during that year. It had 5,900 cooperative members and 22,996 full-time employees, on average, and reported a revenue of DKK 61 billion (£7 billion) and a net profit of DKK 2 billion (£246 million). The same year, it announced plans to offer plant-based products and invest a “three-digit million figure” in more efficient and eco-friendly processing plants. , , , 
According to a 2021 study by New York University researchers, Danish Crown’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are currently equivalent to 29 percent of Denmark’s total emissions. On a business-as-usual pathway, Danish Crown’s emissions would be responsible by 2030 for 42 percent of Denmark’s emissions target under the Paris Agreement, known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). 
Sustainability non-profits GRAIN and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) estimated in a 2018 report that Danish Crown’s total yearly emissions are 16.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). 
In June 2021, three Denmark-based non-profit organisations filed Denmark’s first climate lawsuit against Danish Crown, accusing the company of spreading false claims about the climate impact of meat. 
Stance on Climate Change
In 2019, Danish Crown launched a new brand identity, claiming to set “a new direction towards a more sustainable future from farm to fork,” and announced that a “new brand and narrative will make it clearer to customers and consumers that Danish Crown has started this transformation.” 
The company’s new website includes a section dedicated to sustainability, where the company states that “climate researchers all over the world are highlighting meat as one of the great challenges for our planet, the climate and the living conditions of future generations.” 
On the page, Danish Crown says it aims to “offer people a sustainable alternative, so they can eat meat in responsible quantities with a clear conscience.” The company plans “to be the world’s most sustainable and successful meat producer in 2030” and says it is working to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. 
In a presentation given at the University of Copenhagen in 2020, Valeur stated: “I think it is really important that Danish Crown, on a day like today, tells and shows the outside world that we are part of the solution. That we demonstrate that we can and will help to make global food systems climate neutral, and that we are part of the future.” 
In 2019, Danish Crown’s CEO Jais Valeur stated that he has “a rock-solid belief that we are succeeding in taking a lead role globally on sustainability.” 
In 2018, Danish Crown’s chairman Erik Bredholt explained in a press release that the company is increasingly focusing on sustainability to “go on the offensive” since “everyone is talking about climate and sustainability.” According to Bredholt, Danish Crown now requires farmers to apply for sustainability certification to “demarcate Danish Crown’s pigs positively” and “to show the outside world that we take the lead on the sustainability agenda for meat” to create “a new edge” that cannot be copied by competitors. 
However, the company has also been critical of some efforts to address climate change.
In a 2021 interview with Berlingske, Danish Crown CEO Jais Valeur voiced concerns that the climate debate could drive agriculture out of Denmark. 
In 2021, Danish Crown criticised Denmark’s newly launched dietary guidelines, which highlight the health and environmental impacts of food, for not including information about local differences in meat production. It called for dietary guidelines to be “regularly revised to reflect the progress of agriculture.” 
In 2020, Valeur responded to discussions about meat-free days in government canteens by stating, “the debate about what we should eat in the future deserves more than being reduced to a question of mandatory meat-free days.” 
In its sustainability report, Danish Crown acknowledges “that meat production is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions” and provides data about the emissions of farms that have joined the company’s “Climate Track,” a scheme that aims to reduce supplying farmers’ emissions. According to the report, emissions on certified farms increased from 223kg CO2e per pig in 2019 to 223.8kg in 2020. Danish Crown explained the increase by pointing out that farmers on the Climate Track own the smallest herds, “have a much lower feed efficiency per pig and do not use the latest technology.” In September 2019, Danish Crown reported having “certified the 950 Danish cooperative members who deliver 90 per cent of the pigs for our Danish abattoirs” as part of its Climate Track program. 
Farmers who join the scheme are inspected and certified by Baltic Control, a Danish inspection, testing, and certification company. Danish Crown plans to add all of its supplying members based in Denmark, Poland, Germany and Sweden to the program by 2023. 
In the company’s 2019/2020 sustainability report, Danish Crown claimed that the company had reduced emissions from its facilities from 410,869 to 363,335 tonnes of CO2e in scope 1 and 2 emissions through a transition to renewable energy at several sites. Danish Crown did not include scope 3 emissions in its estimate, however, which account for the majority of meat companies’ emissions. 
In contrast to Danish Crown’s estimate, sustainability non-profits GRAIN and IATP estimated the total yearly emissions of Danish Crown to be 16.5 Mt of CO2e in a 2018 report, using a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation model that covers scope 1–3 emissions. 
Scope 1 and 2 emissions stem from direct activities of a company or activities under their control, as well as from the production of energy used by the company. Scope 3 emissions are all other indirect emissions originating from sources the company does not own or control, including land used to produce animal feed and emissions from farms that supply meat companies. , 
Danish Crown promotes a number of narratives to justify its business model. Find out more about how the meat industry is climate-washing its activities in our investigation. And you can read counter-arguments and criticisms of these narratives in our factsheet.
‘Animal agriculture isn’t a serious driver of climate change’
‘Danish meat is more environmentally friendly’
In January 2021, Danish Crown criticised Denmark’s newly launched dietary guidelines, which highlight the health and environmental impacts of food, for not including information about local differences in meat production. 
In 2020, the company added stickers to pork products stating that the climate footprint of one kilo of Danish pork from Danish Crown had been reduced by 25 percent since 2005. The company stated that producing one kilo of pork in Denmark caused 2.82kg of GHG emissions in 2016, compared with 3.79kg in 2005. Danish Crown backed up this claim by citing a life cycle assessment conducted by Aarhus University’s Department of Agroecology for Danish Crown in 2019. The report is not publicly available, and Danish Crown did not reply to DeSmog’s request for access. , , 
In 2019, Aarhus University withdrew a report on the climate impact of beef published by the Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture (DCA), one of the university’s research centres, when an investigation revealed that Danish Crown and the Danish agricultural association Landbrug & Fødevarer, of which it is a member, had influenced and co-written the report. , , 
In an opinion piece published online, Danish Crown CEO Jais Valeur referred to calculations by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and stated that one kilo of Danish pork produced 10.8kg of CO2 emissions, lower than many other countries, to support the claim that “there is a huge difference in meat’s climate footprint, depending on where it is produced.” The WRI report, which had been part-funded by Landbrug & Fødevarer, concluded that “Denmark is in the lowest carbon cost tier of countries analyzed for both pork and dairy, which differs from some other analyses, but differences are not large.” , 
The WRI and Aarhus University emissions estimates depend on different life cycle analysis models. The World Resources Institute’s model considers land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF), which includes deforestation and organic soil carbon. Aarhus University uses a life cycle assessment model developed as part of a project initiated by Danish Crown titled “Pork 4.0.” The assessment model does not consider the emissions caused, and carbon sequestration prevented, by land use and is only used by Aarhus University in the context of the “Pork 4.0” project. , , 
Also in 2020, the company ran an advertising campaign, claiming that “pigs are more climate-friendly than you think.” After criticism from consumer organisation Forbrugerrådet Tænk and green think tank Concito, Danish Crown stopped using the slogan. The company continues to claim, however, that it produces “climate controlled pork.” , 
In June 2021, three Denmark-based non-profit organisations, the Vegetarian Society of Denmark, the Climate Movement, and the Green Student Movement, filed Denmark’s first climate lawsuit against Danish Crown for these two marketing campaigns, accusing the company of spreading deceptive claims about the climate impact of pork. 
‘Meat can be produced sustainably’
In his opening speech to the 2018 “MEAT2030” conference, Valeur said he wanted a future where “consumers actively seek sustainably produced meat,” “meat production and farming systems are resilient, diverse and thriving; working in harmony with the environment and nature,” and “farmers are paid a fair price for their products and are an influential and valuable part in society.” , 
After the conference, Valeur stated: “I was particularly happy about the consensus that meat should be on the dinner plate in the future. We must have a place on the plate so that we do not become irrelevant in the future.” 
A 2018 study published in Nature found that reducing meat consumption is crucial to lowering the food system’s emissions and that “[i]f socioeconomic changes towards [meat-heavy] Western consumption patterns continue, the environmental pressures of the food system are likely to intensify, and humanity might soon approach the planetary boundaries for global freshwater use, change in land use, and ocean acidification.” 
‘Grazing supports biodiversity’
In 2021, Danish Crown criticised a database about the carbon footprint of different foods launched by Danish retailer Salling Group A/S and the sustainability think tank Concito, claiming it lacked nuance. Danish Crown argued that for “beef cattle, which are bred solely for meat production, CO2 emissions are of course high, but in return they graze in fields and contribute greatly to biodiversity” by “contributing to the emergence of more insects, worms, flowers, plants, and birds, which add biotopes that are attractive to the holistic view of nature.” 
The US-based Center for Biological Diversity states: “The ecological costs of livestock grazing exceed that of any other western land use.” A 2020 study by researchers from the University of Alberta warned that scaling up livestock grazing to meet future food demand could threaten the biodiversity of herbivores and pollinators worldwide. , 
‘Our feed comes from responsible sources’
According to Danish Crown’s website, the company plans to ensure that their “Danish production needs for soy is [sic] covered by third party certified or verified responsible say [sic] that does not cause deforestation.” In 2019, the company joined the Danish Alliance for Responsible Soy. Danish Crown’s Communications Director Astrid Gade Nielsen stated: “Danish feed companies buy soy from areas that live up to the fact that no rainforest has been cleared within a certain number of years, however, the challenge is a lack of documentation on this.” , , 
In response to the 2020 Amazon fires, Danish Crown announced it would be partnering with the European Feed Manufacturers Federation (FEFAC) and plans to acquire “RTRS or RTRS equivalent certificates / credits to cover the company’s Danish production with effect from 1st October 2020.” RTRS credits support farmers to produce soy without deforestation but do not necessarily mean that the credit buyers themselves are feeding sustainable soy to farmed animals. , , 
According to a 2021 Greenpeace report, Danish Crown has knowingly contributed to deforestation in Brazil, including the widely-reported fires of 2020, through its trading partners JBS, Minerva, and Marfrig. 
‘Locally-produced meat cuts out transport emissions’
The company argues on its website that meat produced in Denmark “has a very short way from farm to fork.” 
According to an analysis published by Oxford University’s Our World in Data project, however, the transport, processing, retail, and packaging of food account for only a small share of emissions, while most GHG emissions caused by animal agriculture result from the production of the meat itself. 
‘Meat is needed for a healthy diet and to feed the world’
‘Meat is needed to feed the world’s growing population’
On September 19, 2018, Danish Crown hosted a conference titled “MEAT2030” in Copenhagen with the goal “to get input for a more sustainable future for meat.” One day before the conference, Danish Crown CEO Valeur wrote an article published by Altinget, stating: “In ten years, the middle class worldwide will have grown from 3.2 billion people to 5 billion who will […] have meat as part of their diet. This is wearing out the planet and this development cannot continue. We are therefore faced with a choice: Should we stop eating meat, or should we find a sustainable way forward? At Danish Crown, the answer is clear. Meat has always been part of the human diet, and so it will remain in the future.” , 
On the company’s “Sustainability” section of its website, Danish Crown states that despite the climate impacts of meat consumption, “this does not mean that Danish Crown will be producing less meat” because “in 2050, according to the UN, there will be approximately 10 billion mouths to feed.” 
A 2018 study published in Nature, however, found that reducing meat consumption is crucial to lowering the food system’s emissions and that “[i]f socioeconomic changes towards [meat-heavy] Western consumption patterns continue, the environmental pressures of the food system are likely to intensify, and humanity might soon approach the planetary boundaries for global freshwater use, change in land use, and ocean acidification.” 
‘Meat is an exceptional source of nutrients’
According to Valeur, “meat has always been associated with quality of life and prosperity” and is “a good and safe way to vital proteins, vitamins and minerals.” At a conference held at the University of Copenhagen in 2020, Valeur stated that “meat has an important role to play in a balanced diet.” , 
Nutrition associations, including the British Nutrition Foundation, approve of meat-free diets, however. According to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” , 
‘Eating meat is a personal choice’
In response to newly launched dietary guidelines by the Danish government in January 2021, Danish Crown argued it should be left to “the individual consumer to assess their meat intake.” 
‘Innovations in animal agriculture will tackle climate change’
‘We are producing less emissions-intensive meat’
As part of the company’s sustainability strategy, Danish Crown launched a “Climate Track” scheme to “produce meat that is (net) climate neutral in 2050,” pointing out that “Danish farmers have [already] successfully improved efficiency, so that the amount of feed needed to produce 1 kg of pork has fallen significantly over the last several years.” 
Sustainability non-profits GRAIN and IATP warn that “the large gains in ‘efficiency’ realised by industrial farming in the twentieth century will be hard to repeat without major ecological, social and health impacts.” 
‘Breeding and genetic engineering will reduce the climate impacts of meat’
In 2019, Danish Crown partnered with SEGES, an offshoot of Landbrug & Fødevarer, Aarhus University, and other companies for the “FutureBeefCross” project, aiming to develop more climate-friendly beef cattle through breeding and genetic engineering. 
‘We are using more sustainable packaging and fertiliser’
In 2021, Danish Crown committed to purchasing CO2-free fertiliser from a new production plant in Esbjerg, a project led by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) expected to start operations in 2026. In 2019, Danish Crown launched new packaging to reduce its plastic consumption. , , 
According to an analysis published by Oxford University’s Our World in Data project, the packaging of meat accounts for only a small share of emissions caused by the livestock sector. 
‘We are producing green energy’
In 2019, Danish Crown argued that biogas produced from its slaughterhouses’ residual products provide “enough green energy to heat many homes.” 
Environmental campaigners have criticised manure management technologies such as biogas digesters for “helping to perpetuate large-scale factory farming under the guise of mitigating climate change.” Campaigners have also argued that gas produced on factory farms does not qualify as clean energy because burning the gas releases carbon dioxide and other contaminants, while methane-capture technologies fail to address the majority of industrial livestock farming emissions. , 
In 2019, the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food invited Danish Crown’s CEO to chair a new climate partnership between the government and the food and agriculture sector, to help the Danish government reach its goal of reducing the country’s emissions by 70 percent by 2030. After Danish Crown farmers criticised Valeur for accepting the position instead of focusing on meat sales, its press manager Jens Hansen stated: “In our view, it would be crazy to say no to leading the climate partnership, when there is an inquiry from the country’s Minister of Food and the Prime Minister. In the role of chairman, Jais Valeur and Danish Crown get the best possible opportunities to shape and contribute to a climate strategy that ensures we still have significant food production in 2050, which contributes to jobs and foreign exchange earnings in Denmark.” , , 
The climate partnership chaired by Valeur submitted a report to the Danish government in 2020, suggesting steps towards a more sustainable and climate-friendly system of agriculture in Denmark. The submission of the report coincided with the outbreak of COVID-19, and CEO Valeur stated that Danish Crown had decided to postpone discussions about the report with the Danish government and parliament. , 
“Glad for gris,” a campaign launched in 2019, which aims “to strengthen the sale of pork in Denmark by contributing to an improvement in the perceived value of pork through a digital consumer campaign, targeted at young people,” received €2.45 million in funding from the EU. The campaign was run by Landbrug & Fødevarer, an organisation representing Danish food and agricultural companies, including Danish Crown. It was also supported by the Danish Pig Tax Fund, overseen by the Danish Ministry of Food and Agriculture, working to “strengthen the development opportunities and competitiveness of the whole pork sector.” , , 
In 2018, Danish Crown reported that it had been collaborating with European food groups to develop the EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) standards for “documenting and communicating the environmental footprint of the production of red meat” since 2016. 
In 2017, Danish Crown’s Senior Sustainability Manager Charlotte Thy gave a presentation at a conference on developing EU PEF standards organised by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food titled “Challenges in the development of PEFCR for meat. Market possibilities for Danish meat sector.” 
When current Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen, then chairman of Denmark’s Social Democratic Party, dismissed the discussion about the environmental impact of meat as hysterical in 2018, CEO of Danish Crown Beef Finn Klostermann reportedly replied: “If you do not become Prime Minister, then you can become a seller at Danish Crown.” 
Bjarke Kamstrup, former press manager at the Danish Ministry of Food and Agriculture became Public Affairs Manager at Danish Crown in May 2021. 
Jais Valeur, CEO of Danish Crown, chaired a climate partnership in 2019 consisting of 14 Danish business leaders invited by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food to help the government reach its 2030 emissions goals. The 14 members included representatives of other high-emitting sectors, including from aviation (SAS Danmark), shipping (Mærsk), and transport (DSV Panalpina). , 
In September 2018, Danish Crown hosted a conference titled “MEAT2030.” Speakers included the then Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen; Lisa Sweet, Head of Agriculture, Food and Beverage Industries at the World Economic Forum; Michael La Cour, Managing Director of IKEA Food Services; Stephanie Draper, Chief Change Officer at Forum for the Future; Anne Mottet, Livestock Officer at FAO; and food entrepreneur Claus Meyer Nielsen. The presentations covered the ecological footprint of livestock farming, changing consumer preferences, and the potential of technological innovations, including plant-based and lab-grown meat alternatives. , 
Karl Christian Møller, Chief Analyst at Danish Crown, is on the board of directors of Dansk Protein Innovation, which supplies grass protein to animal feed producer Vestjyllands Andel. 
As part of the company’s sustainability messaging, Danish Crown uses a life cycle assessment model developed as part of the “Pork 4.0” project, a project initiated by Danish Crown and carried out in collaboration with Aarhus University, Danish health authority Statens Serum Institut, and consulting firm SEGES, an offshoot of Landbrug & Fødevarer. The “Pork 4.0” assessment model does not consider the emissions caused, and carbon sequestration prevented by, land use and is only used by Aarhus University in the context of the “Pork 4.0” project. , 
In 2019, Aarhus University withdrew a report from Aarhus University’s Danish Centre For Food And Agriculture (DCA) and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) about the climate impact of beef and veal when an investigation by the newspaper Information revealed that Danish Crown and the Danish agricultural association Landbrug & Fødevarer had influenced and co-written the report, as well as subsequent press releases. , , 
Danish Crown confirmed that the company should have been listed as a co-author of the report and announced it would be working with Danish law firm Kammeradvokaten/Poul Schmith “to assess our collaboration with research institutes, – especially regarding the beef report from 2019 but also in relation to reports from previous years.” , 
Further investigations uncovered errors and omissions in 34 out of 55 DCA reports produced by Aarhus University that involved collaboration with private companies and interested groups. The university decided not to withdraw these additional reports. , , 
In 2019, Aarhus University partnered with Danish Crown, among other Danish retail companies, to develop a Master’s degree programme in Commercial and Retail Management. In 2020, Danish Crown partnered with Aarhus University and consulting firm SEGES for “Pork 4.0,” a research project on sustainable pork production. , 
Copenhagen University’s Department of Food Science works with Danish Crown, among other meat producers, to help the company “with the challenges the meat industry is facing.” In 2020, Copenhagen University’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences invited Danish Crown to speak at a conference titled “Transforming global food systems under climate change: Achieving zero emissions”. , 
Since 2017, Copenhagen University and Aarhus University have been collaborating with Danish Crown on the “SuperGrassPork” project, an initiative working to supplement pig feed with locally grown grass protein funded by the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries-backed Green Development and Demonstration Program (GUDP). Other partners in the project include Friland A/S, a Danish Crown supplier, animal feed and crop producer Vestjyllands Andel, and the Institute for Food Studies, a non-profit organization working to improve human and planetary health through food-based solutions. 
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