Danish entrepreneur Lars Frederiksen has long believed that the best way to make people feel good and stimulate all senses comes with some pleasant taste and smell from the kitchen. That belief inspired him to follow his passion and ultimately manage a company that would specialize in producing mouth-watering organic chocolates and other decadent sweet treats of the very best quality.
First he opened a restaurant, and then a café, and in 2001, he and his wife Yan bought a chocolate factory dedicated since 1983 to producing one of the first fine, artisan organic chocolates in the world, Woodshade Organics. The brand, operated under the company name Molle-Skovly, is recognized among chocolate connoisseurs for its unique sweets, wrapped in rustic but still sophisticated and eco-friendly packaging, handmade wood boxes, of course. The international Slow Food Foundation awarded Woodshade Organics the “Golden Snail” in 1998, 1999 and 2000 for outstanding quality.
Woodshade Organics offers a broad range of sumptuous raw marzipan and pralines, ornated with the most delicious dried fruits created in a 4,300 square-meter facility in Knebel, Denmark. The goal was, and remains today, to produce confectionery of supreme quality without the use of additives, and based on raw ingredients from the best certified organic producers.
The company is thriving not only in the domestic market, but is also exporting mainly to other Scandinavian countries, Germany, France and China. It also exhibits at the international fairs ISM, BioFach and Anuga in Germany.
This fall, Mr. Frederiksen will be at Anuga, as part of the Bio aus Denmark pavilion in Hall 5.1, showcasing a new, exclusive liquorice marzipan and three additional pralines: one with coconut, milk nougat and dates, another with liquorice marzipan, white chocolate and granulated liquorice on top and one with dark nougat, covered in white chocolate with candied orange.
Mr Frederiksen admits that running a top-quality artisan chocolate factory has not been easy, with growing competition from different multi-million-dollar firms now also offering organic and fair trade chocolate and many new small firms invading the shelves of organic and natural health food stores with raw organic and fair trade-certified chocolates. Denmark is a small country, but known as a market that appreciates high-quality products, especially those that are the result of hard work that respects sustainable development.
“We stay away from the tablet chocolate”, he says. Instead, Woodshade adds visual excitement with the tantalizing combination of dried edible flowers, cranberries, or just a touch of orange peel on top of a piece of fresh raw marzipan covered with smooth nougat and a fine layer of premium raw Ecuadorian chocolate. “Being small and unique, you have to work harder”, he says.
To keep a competitive edge, Woodshade Organics has diversified its line and operation. Its Dolce Latte follows the traditional Latin American recipe for this rich and intense caramel. The firm also produces top-quality jams made with local and exotic fruit pulp imported from Mozambique, where Mr. Frederiksen owns a farm, and has partnered with Mrs. Åse Ditlefsen, who runs First Natural Choice Lda., an organic fruit pulp and juice processing plant that supports the work of about 500 farmers. The firm also supplies leading German brand Voelkel with pineapple juice and green coconut water.
Woodshade Organics also distributes other lines such as organic-certified corn chips from Poco Loco Snack Food in Belgium, the 100 per cent vegan, gluten and yeast-free bread spreads from German organic pioneer Zwergenwiese and even the line of Pacari Chocolate, a company that follows the same principles of sustainability and passion for good chocolate. Mr Frederiksen is also co-author of two nice books “Raw Chocolate Naked Passion” and “Beer , Cheese and Chocolate”.
Denmark was one of the first countries to recognize the potential of organic products with the highest market share of organic food in the world, making up eight per cent of the total Danish food market. Consumers’ appetite for organic fruit and vegetables has increased its share of the total food consumption from 19 per cent in 2006 to 23 per cent in 2010.
About seven per cent of the Danish land area is used for organic farming. The government aims to reach 15 per cent organically farmed land area by 2020. Germany is the largest export market, followed by Sweden, France and the UK. Danish imports of organic products exceed exports, as consumer demand for a broad range of products has increased. There is a short supply of almost all organic products. Demand for organic feed and other products necessary for food processing and production of organic foodstuffs, e.g. rape seed, is skyrocketing. The
Danish organic community is working at an international level to keep organic production free of genetically modified organisms (GMO). At the national level, an action plan has been set up to keep GMOs out of the fodder for organic livestock. It is therefore reassuring that Danish organic farmers and companies, and their organizations, are constantly developing their production according to these principles. Woodshade Organics is a sweet example of how hard work pays off.