Copenhagen challenges bigger cities such as London for the breadth of its organic and whole food offer. Shoppers can find organics in produce, packaged groceries, food to go or eat in across many different retail outlets such as whole food bakeries, raw and vegan bars, natural cosmetic shops, convenient stores and health food stores. And at its impressive supermarkets, organic foods are central to the offer, not peripheral as in many countries.

The Danish capital is home to the world's second oldest and Denmark's oldest supermarket, Irma, owned by Coop and recently announced that 31 percent of all food sold is organic, with the retailer targeting a 50 percent share over the next ten years.

Irma City at 24 Borgergade is a modern, upmarket store with excellent merchandising and layout. It carries many certified organic lines across food categories, a high concentration of organic fruit and vegetables and features a strong selection of foods under its own Irma brand.

Fotex is expanding its Føtex Food stores and the Kristen Bernikows Gade small supermarket stocked well to reasonable ranges of certified organic food with the Danish Okologisk label prominently displayed in organic fruit and vegetables. It also stocks a wide variety of household goods such as clothing, cosmetics, and electronic equipment.

Fotex is operated by Dansk Supermarked Group, which has more than 1,400 stores in four countries, several successful Danish e-commerce businesses and employs more than 50,000 people internationally. Dansk also operates Bilka hypermarkets and Netto discount stores in Germany, Poland and Sweden.

SuperBrugsen is Denmark's largest supermarket chain with medium to large-sized stores, setting high standards of merchandising with comprehensive ranges of certified organic brands, including Coop private labels, in a shopper-friendly layout.

SuperBrugsen is owned by Coop Danmark, the largest retailer of consumer goods in the country and a cooperative owned by over 1.4 million members, and a turnover of around DKK50 billion. Coop also operates the retail chains Kvickly, Dagli’Brugsen, Coop.dk Shopping and subsidiaries, discounter Fakta A/S (which sells organic produce) and Irma A/S. In 2016, Coop launched its new online store, Coop.dk MAD, offering 8,000 different products.

Health food and vegan stores in Copenhagen include Helsemin, Naturbutik, and Den Veganske Butik. Helsemin has 14 health food stores and the one I visited stocked small SKUs in most categories but was packed with a broad range of professionally merchandised health foods, supplements, vitamins and herbal remedies, along with organic cosmetics and snacks and chocolate brands.

Malmo is Sweden's first Fairtrade city

A short train trip from Copenhagen over the Öresund bridge is Malmo, the venue for the Natural Products Scandinavia show co-located with Nordic Organic Food Fair, a city with an emerging food scene and award-winning restaurants.

Swedish supermarkets have increased ranges of certified organic food and healthier private labels. A recent study found that 32 percent of food purchased in Sweden's public sector is organic.

ICA Gruppen, the biggest food chain in Sweden with around 1,300 stores and a market share of around 40 percent (2016), also franchises and sells to independent ICA retailers. ICA Gruppen's sales were SEK7.4 billion in 2016, up 15 percent (organic sales up 25 percent).

Other main supermarket retailers include Coop (organic sales up 13.5 percent in 2016), Axfood with Hemkop stores (organic up 33 percent); and Bergendahls with M.A.T./CityGross supermarkets (organic up 38 percent).

Västra Hamnen, the Western Harbour, is one of Malmö’s largest residential construction projects and a national showcase for sustainable urban development.

Located here is the ICA Maxi Stormarknad, featuring a warehouse-style interior with a supermarket on one side and household goods on the other. The supermarket offers excellent category signage including overhead boards with conventional and organic groceries and fresh foods on display.

Bergendahls Green Matmarknad or green supermarket at Vastra Hamnen is a medium-sized organic food store with great atmosphere, featuring little overhead category sign boards and blackboards, an internal sit-down café/restaurant area in the center of the shop and extensive deli sections. Fruit and vegetables are 70-80 percent organic due to seasonal availability.

Coop Nara at Central Station, more like a convenience store, stocks some organics in grocery categories and fruit and vegetables attractively merchandised.

A larger Coop Extra visited in the city was a traditional, supermarket with reasonable ranges in organic grocery including private organic label, KRAV-labelled foods such as in fruit and vegetables, with an EKO section showing organic groceries, tea, chocolates, and superfoods.