Frans Timmermanns, VL Summit 2018

Frans Timmermanns, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Lars Rohde, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Danmarks Nationalbank, kick off the Annual Danish Top Executive Summit 2018

The more than 40 contributors make this year’s Annual Danish Top Executive Summit 2018 a high-calibre international event. There are speakers from all over the world providing highly nutritious food for thought. We were recently notified that Frans Timmermanns, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Lars Rohde, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Danmarks Nationalbank, have agreed to be speakers at the 2018 Summit. Read more about all the speakers here.

Impressive opening event for the Annual Danish Top Executive Summit 2018. At 10 am, Frans Timmermanns, Vice-President of the European Commission, will discuss Europe’s future and economic outlook with Lars Rohde, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Danmarks Nationalbanken. The debate will be moderated by John Gapper, Associate Editor, Financial Times.

Lars Rohde is one of the most outstanding central bank directors in Europe, after winning wide respect for rebuffing the attack on the Danish krone. In January–February 2015, speculators launched a heavy attack against the Danish krone, but Mr Rohde successfully withstood the rising pressure, the effects of which included that the short rate fell to minus 0.75%.


Frans Timmermanns is Vice-President of the European Commission and former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs. His primary task for the Commission is to chart how the entire EU system can resonate among the peoples of Europe. In other words, make the European Union relevant in an era where soaring populism launches stinging attacks on the EU system. He is a no-nonsense guy who tells it like it is.

“Let me put it this way, Frans Timmermans is the commissioner I would prefer to listen to,” says Jakob Vinde Larsen, editor of the foreign affairs programme “Verden ifølge Gram” (the World According to Gram) and previously EU correspondent for the Danish Broadcasting Company.


Meet Jais Valeur, CEO, Danish Crown, at the Annual Danish Top Executive Summit

Meet Jais Valeur, CEO, Danish Crown, at the Annual Danish Top Executive Summit

Jais Valeur, CEO, Danish Crown, will speak at the 2018 Annual Danish Top Executive Summit in a plenary session entitled “Innovation in Europe” along with David Lloyd of Alibaba and other participants.

Europe has golden opportunities but must actively pursue them

“In Europe and Denmark, we have unique opportunities to manufacture unique, differentiated products. Europe comprises a diversity of cultures, specialities and cuisines not found anywhere else in the world. We must be even better at exploiting this. It is notably Europe’s diversity that could give us a competitive advantage,” says Jais Valeur, CEO, Danish Crown.

Danish Crown’s sales and marketing are not besieged in Europe. The company sources its own raw materials and manages a complex value chain. Its biggest strategic risk is being deadlocked as a supplier of raw materials to others and not managing the further processing of these raw materials. Earning money in the retail trade is difficult if everything is solely focused on price – at the expense of everything else. On the other hand, the company sees immense potential in the area of food service, where growth is rocketing.

Danish Crown just entered into cooperation with Alibaba, which could be instrumental in changing its relationship with consumers. There was a long run-up, assisted by the CEO’s personal experience with China.

“I lived in China from 2006 to 2007, when I was working for Arla. This gave me first-hand experience of cooperating with the Chinese. Also, my wife is Chinese. Right now, we’re annually exporting products to the Chinese market for DKK 4 billion. Danish Crown has four sales offices in this enormous country, and we account for 21% of Denmark’s total exports to China. Therefore, partnering with Alibaba did not arise by chance. It naturally evolved along this long journey. In fact, China is now one of Danish Crown’s five biggest markets,” says Jais Valeur before further explaining the opportunities in the Chinese market.

Bonding the Danish pig to Chinese consumers


Europe’s commodities market is under pressure, where prices have plummeted over the past six months. The future market comprises all Southeast Asia. For instance, Danish Crown accounts for one-third of Denmark’s total exports to Japan.

“Our primary task is to forge a strong bond between the Danish pig and the Chinese market. Danish Crown has four domestic markets: Denmark, Sweden, Poland and the UK. China is well on its way to becoming the fifth. Therefore, we’re currently building a processing plant outside Shanghai.

“We must climb further up the value chain and sell not only raw materials, but fresh frozen meat to Chinese consumers. The target group comprises the 25 million inhabitants of Shanghai. It was during the project that we encountered Alibaba. They want to consolidate their position in the food sector and we’ve had a series of discussions with them. I think it will ultimately enable us to shake up the food-product market around Shanghai by infusing it with meat from Danish Crown, purchased online and delivered directly to consumers,” Jais Valeur says.

From China to Europe

In terms of e-commerce, Alibaba and China are in decisive positions, and we can benefit from transferring the lessons they are learning to Europe.

“China has deep-pocketed consumers, a demand for European products and rapidly growing e-commerce – all of which open up new opportunities. That’s why we want to check out the new commercial opportunities, and eventually transfer them to Europe and the rest of the world. We assess that the market in our part of the world is not as mature yet. Amazon is in the process of entering the daily commodities market in the UK and Germany. But they’re still not quite there. In this respect, Alibaba’s presence on the Chinese market is far more advanced. Danish Crown’s point of departure is to start out in Shanghai and, if all goes well, take a closer look at other major Chinese cities. There are valuable lessons to be learned in all of this which we can use to develop our strategy.”

Abattoirs at the cutting edge

Danish Crown expends many resources on automation. There is a long-standing tradition for this in the meat-packing industry. Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line in 1905. He merely applied the techniques developed by a Cincinnati meat-packing plant back in the 1870s. Abattoirs have always been at the forefront of trailblazing technology.

“Robots are also coming to our industry, but our heavy reliance on manual labour means we are still very labour-intensive. This explains why we are investing heavily in robotics technology. The entire agricultural sector has been very advanced by putting digitisation to use. Blockchain technology has exciting potential for us by making it possible to link the individual animal to the consumer. Also, we’re currently using ‘big data’ and we’ll be intensifying our use of it from now on.

“The meat-packer of tomorrow will be a robot someday. This will strengthen our competitiveness, which has been challenged by the high level of wages in Denmark. We have the raw materials to make premium products, but high wages stop us from making them. Still, I believe there are golden opportunities ahead.”


Despite these golden opportunities, Jais Valeur still wags his finger at our part of the world:
“Europe isn’t hungry enough. We’re too complacent. Our stomachs are full. We don’t have any reason to go out and hunt.”

Meet Denmark’s Tech Ambassador Casper Klynge at the Annual Danish Top Executive Summit

Meet Denmark’s Tech Ambassador Casper Klynge at the Annual Danish Top Executive Summit

Tech-Ambassador Casper Klynge, Silicon Valley, will speak at the 2018 Annual Danish Top Executive Summit, focusing on “The Future of Europe – Against All Odds”.

Trustful Danes generate digital success

Tech-ambassador Casper Klynge believes that Denmark will show the way for the rest of the world by bridging the gap between countries that are wary of technology and those who aren’t. “The most highly digitised countries will see stronger economic growth than those who aren’t. This makes it crucial for us to take joint action in this area throughout Europe. By that I mean that Denmark can play a balanced role to ensure that Europe is well-positioned for addressing future challenges and opportunities,” he says in an interview with VL Nyt.


Denmark blazes new trails

“There is a feeling of expectant curiosity about why Denmark has chosen to have the world’s first tech ambassador – not only from among the high-tech companies themselves. Other countries are also very interested to know why Denmark chose to blaze this particular new trail, which far exceeds what you can usually expect of a small country,” Casper Klynge says.

The new tech ambassador will be used to exert influence on development trends at the high-tech behemoths – initially those in Silicon Valley (California), Beijing and Copenhagen.

“In Europe, technology is viewed in a variety of ways. This is Denmark’s chance to set an agenda dominated by the opportunities – not the limitations. All (technological) revolutions affecting the world have always resulted in something good, despite widespread scepticism when a technology was emerging,” says Casper Klynge, continuing:

“Denmark has a lot to offer in this context. We’re one of the most highly digitised countries in the world, which includes our public sector. In this respect, Denmark can set a European agenda by bridging the gap between those who are wary of technology and those who embrace its latest and best trends. The commonsensical people of Denmark know how to seize opportunities without worsening inequality.”

Technology moving back to Europe

The epicentres of the first two industrial revolutions were in Europe. After this, the third crossed the Atlantic and on to Asia. By contrast, Europe has a good opportunity to take the lead globally, in the tech ambassador’s view.

“Global technological leadership must come from Europe. We have clear values and our societies are open. We’re not reluctant to impose restrictions on monopolies, create consumer protections or stand up for human rights. The combination of these factors enables Europe to play a crucial global role. Accordingly, we can join forces with tech companies to lay the proper groundwork for the digital era.”


Denmark leading the way

Denmark leads the pack in terms of digitisation. More than 90% of all communication between individuals and authorities is done digitally. This very high percentage is particularly due to the trust we have in our authorities.

“Some European countries are facing structural challenges. In Denmark, we’ve digitised most of the communications between authorities and individuals. The most highly digitised countries will see stronger economic growth than those who aren’t. This makes it crucial for us to take joint action in this area throughout Europe. By that I mean that Denmark can play a balanced role by ensuring that Europe is properly positioned to address future challenges and opportunities. The weight of its arguments – not its size – is often crucial for a country’s impact.

“Our civil ID registry and digitised communications between individuals and authorities always make a big impression abroad. More than 90% of all communications are digitised. No other country even comes close to this figure. A relationship of trust has always existed between the people of Denmark and Denmark’s public authorities. This has made it easier to digitise Danish society.

“In the US, people place more trust in private companies than public authorities. Accordingly, it’s hard for them to catch up to us in the area of e-governance,” Casper Klynge concludes.