Bornholms Mosteri may produce some of the best organic juices in Denmark, but their journey has been much more meaningful than that. They’re not only leading the way in terms of New Nordic commercial products, but have also developed a self-sustaining social enterprise that aims to employ those who may otherwise have difficulty finding work.
Their juices and safts (juice concentrate) can be found in restaurants and cafes across Denmark, as well as in speciality food stories, on Nemlig.com, and at a select supermarkets such as Rema 1000.
We spoke with CEO of Bornholms Mosteri, Morten Kolind, about their tasty juices, local ingredients, and how their company has grown:
What are the origins of Borholms Mosteri?
Bornholms Mosteri was originally started as a municipal occupational project in 2006 by two social workers from Bornholm, Denmark. They wanted to make a project for socially marginalized people that, due to physical or mental illness, are unable to find long-term work.
Originally, the juice mill was located in a small apple orchard in Svaneke, a town just outside of Bornholmian. In 2012, production was moved to a former fish factory in Rønne Harbour, where we are still located today. Sales increased, and in 2013 the company reach a commercial level where we could no longer could be owned by the municipality, so we privatized.
Today we are owned by the Michelin-star restaurant Kadeau, two local fishery companies, and a social capital fund. We operate the juice mill as a commercial company, but we have kept our social responsibility roots; approximately 75% of our employees are socially marginalized people, and we’re committed to never going below 50%.
I was employed as CEO in November 2014, and came from the financial sector. My job has been to transform the juice mill from being a municipal occupational project to be a profitable commercial company with a significant social responsibility component.
You’re located on Bornholm, a popular holiday destination in Denmark. What is it like being there, and what are the pros and cons of being there as a business?
We all know Bornholm as a fantastic holiday island destination with a beautiful landscape, but Bornholm (and the Bornholmians) have a unique, innovative mindset and are always creating new companies. Some examples are Johan Bülow Lakrids, Kadeau, Svaneke Bryghys, and Gorms Pizza. The Bornholmians help each other; the network between the companies is strong. Support from local companies is so important to our company: the success of one is success for all.
The Bornholm name – specially within food – has become really strong, which has been an advantage for our company.
The disadvantage is the distance to the mainland. The ferry connection makes it more difficult and expensive to transport goods to and from the island. In addition, it can be hard to recruit employees with the right skills; fortunately more people are moving to the island at the moment.
Do you try to focus on Nordic and/or Danish flavors?
Yes! We focus on raw ingredients that exist in Denmark and the Nordic region. The exceptions are oranges and lemons, which cannot be grown in the Nordics. Those flavors are important to our customers, so we still include them in our product portfolio.
What is it like to experiment with flavors? Do you have any stories about flavors that didn’t work out, or ones that are coming soon?
The quality and taste of the fruit is key for all our juices. We don’t launch products that don’t meet our standards. In the past, we have rejected raw materials that not meet our standards of taste and quality. Sometimes the use of the right amount of a certain ingredient makes the flavor profile perfect, but results in a price that is too high for the market. In these cases, we choose not to launch the product. We’d rather not launch it then do something that’s of lower quality.
Why is creating jobs for socially marginalised groups important to you, and how does it shape your work?
Our strong sense of social responsibility is a part of our DNA. Many of the processes in our production are manual, and will be kept manual to sustain workstations that can be handled without special skills. Running a business based on a workforce like ours is very different from other productions.
We make sure to build in a buffer into our stock. Our employees work the number of hours and at the speed that has been agreed upon during the recruitment process. We strive to find the strength in each person and make room for the areas where they are not as strong.
Tell us about your sourcing and production practices.
We source only the best quality, organic raw ingredients. We press the rhubarbs and apples ourselves, and all the fruits are sorted manually. This means that only the good parts of the fruits are pressed. In relation to production practices and food security, we are mandated by the same rules and regulations as all other commercial companies.
Bornholms Mosteri is 100% organic. What does that mean in terms of juice? Are there other areas of sustainability you are working on with the company?
It is important that our products are organic and contain no pesticides, no preservatives, no artificial food coloring, and no other artificial additives. We want a clean product in both taste and raw ingredients.
Aside from being socially responsible, we strive to be an environmentally friendly company. We work hard to reduce our CO2 emissions and possible food waste. We’re involved in several projects to make new food products from the pulp from our apple and rhubarb pressings. New food products have been developed in test scale and now we just need an approval to use the pulp form The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. As for our CO2 emissions, we are currently taking steps to reduce our use of electricity, water, and oil,
How do you want people to feel when they’re drinking your juices?
Drinking our products can evoke memories from childhood. Our rhubarb drink really looks and tastes like rhubarb, a classic Danish flavor; the sugar content is reduced to keep the authentic taste of the fruit.
We’re also very aware of the aesthetics of the drink; the packaging and color should be simple and beautiful.
Bornholms Mosteri tries to work across all parts of our business to produce drinks that bring joy to the people who drink them, but also to those working within the business. We can’t do one without the other.
Find out more about Bornholms Mosteri.