Britain’s favourite savoury spread Marmite could be on the verge of making a triumphant return to Danish food shelves after a British expat launched a risk-assessment application to be able to market Marmite in Denmark.
Anette Flensborg, a nutrition consultant with the food authorities, Fødevarestyrelsen, confirmed to the Copenhagen Post that an application was being processed, and although she wouldn’t comment further on the particular case, it did look promising in terms of statistics.
“Out of the about 120 cases we process every year, around 92 percent are approved," Flensborg revealed. "But we have to check the security and we do so by a case-by-case point."
Brits and many other internationals in Denmark shed a collective tear back in 2011 when the Danish food authorities ruled that Marmite spread could no longer be marketed in Denmark because it contained the added vitamin B 12.
But David Darlington, a British expat who has imported and supplied British and American food products to Danish supermarkets for the past 13 years via his Randers-based company Food From Home, is doing his best to get Marmite back into the hands of his countrymen. So far, his journey has been an uphill struggle.
The winds of change
According to Fødevarestyrelsen, the “addition of vitamins, minerals and other substances need to be approved by the authority before the product can be marketed in Denmark”.
Hence, any company that wishes to sell Marmite has to fork out 8,900 kroner just to apply for a risk-assessment to be performed by Fødevarestyrelsen, and if it is approved, the permission only counts for the company that paid for the assessment.
“If any other companies wish to apply to sell Marmite, then they too must pay 8,900 kroner to have exactly the same risk assessment carried out,” Darlington said.
“Now, hang on a minute. 20 companies x 8,900 kroner each, that’s a lot of money. Now they're using bloody Marmite to milk money out of people.”
Fødevarestyrelsen informed the Copenhagen Post that this was indeed the standard practice at the moment, but that it was working on simplifying the rules so that everyone could take advantage of one product’s assessment approval.
Darlington was equally furious that Marmite’s British-Dutch producer Unilever isn’t stepping up to the plate to help its loyal customers in Denmark get their hands on their beloved savoury spread.
“Is it fair, that David Darlington, a humble British expat from Liverpool, should be expected to foot this outrageous 8,900 kroner bill to market and sell Unilever's precious Marmite in Denmark?” he asked in disbelief.
“What about Unilever? They are a multi-billion pound organisation, with hundreds of products sold worldwide, which in the end will be benefiting very nicely from David Darlington's financial investment.”
Darlington has tried for years to touch base with Unilever to get answers to these questions, but he has finally given up after scores of unanswered emails, voicemails and telephone messages. “We’re too small for them to care,” he maintains.
So he has gone it alone on behalf of the British community in Denmark, even though his 8,900-kroner investment could vanish into thin air should Fødevarestyrelsen reject his application. But for him, it’s a principle issue now.
“Against the advice of my accountant and many other networkers, I have decided that the time has come for me to surrender to the powers that be and dig deep into my own pocket on behalf of poor old Unilever.”