Denmark’s Top 10 Exports

Denmark’s Top 10 Exports


Denmark shipped US$94.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, up by 2.6% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in but down by -0.4% from 2015 to 2016.

Denmark’s top 10 exports accounted for 59.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Denmark’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $264.8 billion as of October 2016. Therefore, exports accounted for about 35.6% of total Danish economic output.

From a continental perspective, 73.6% of Danish exports by value are delivered to other European countries while 13.4% are sold to Asian importers. Denmark ships another 6.6% to North America while 1.3% worth are delivered to customers in Africa.

Given Denmark’s population of 5.6 million people, its total $94.2 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $16,800 for every resident in that country.

Denmark’s unemployment rate was 4.3% as of January 2017 according to Trading Economics, down from 4.4% one year earlier.

Denmark’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Danish global shipments during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Denmark.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$12.8 billion (13.6% of total exports)
  2. Pharmaceuticals: $12.5 billion (13.3%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $8.8 billion (9.4%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: $4 billion (4.2%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $3.9 billion (4.2%)
  6. Meat: $3.6 billion (3.9%)
  7. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $2.8 billion (3%)
  8. Fish: $2.6 billion (2.8%)
  9. Vehicles: $2.4 billion (2.6%)
  10. Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.4 billion (2.5%)

Pharmaceuticals were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 75.1 in value for the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place was exported fish via its 38.3% gain, followed by the 12.1% increase for furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings.

Three top categories declined in value: mineral fuels including oil (down -51.3%), meat (down -17.9%) and optical, technical and medical apparatus (down -3.6%).


The following types of Danish product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Pharmaceuticals: US$8.7 billion (Up by 108.1% since 2009)
  2. Meat: $2.6 billion (Down by -24.3%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $1.9 billion (Up by 3.8%)
  4. Dairy, eggs, honey: $1.7 billion (Down by -2.4%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.4 billion (Down by -7%)
  6. Modified starches, glues, enzymes: $1.2 billion (Up by 18.6%)
  7. Live animals: $1 billion (Up by 14.7%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $721.1 million (Up by 14.4%)
  9. Fish: $684.7 million (Up by 10.8%)
  10. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $671.2 million (Down by -12.6%)

Denmark has highly positive net exports in the international trade of drugs and medicines. In turn, these cashflows indicate Denmark’s strong competitive advantages under the pharmaceuticals product category.


Below are exports from Denmark that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Denmark’s goods trail Danish importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Vehicles : -US$4.6 billion (Up by 141.9% since 2009)
  2. Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.4 billion (Up by 76%)
  3. Wood: -$890.9 million (Up by 24.6%)
  4. Ships, boats: -$800.4 million (Down by -60.8%)
  5. Paper, paper items: -$621 million (Down by -25.2%)
  6. Fruits, nuts: -$591.4 million (Down by -5.5%)
  7. Mineral fuels including oil: -$541.8 million (Down by -123.5%)
  8. Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$509.8 million (Up by 70.3%)
  9. Iron, steel: -$491.2 million (Up by 43.2%)
  10. Footwear: -$461 million (Up by 86.9%)

Denmark has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the vehicles category particularly for cars, trucks, trailers and even bicycles and tractors.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Denmark’s competitive disadvantages in the international vehicles market, but also represent key opportunities for Denmark to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations on alternative transportation means.


Danish Export Companies

Fourteen Danish corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Danish companies that Forbes included:

  • A.P. Moller-Maersk Group (transportation, energy)
  • Novo Nordisk (pharmaceuticals)
  • Carlsberg (beverages)
  • Coloplast (medical equipment, supplies)
  • TDC (telecommunications services)
  • Novozymes (biotechs)
  • Vestas Wind Systems (electrical equipment)
  • DSV (transportation, logistics)

Wikipedia also lists exporters from Denmark. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Arla Foods (dairy products)
  • House of Amber (jewelry)
  • Kopenhagen Fur (fur clothing, accessories)
  • Lego Group (toys)
  • Royal Copenhagen (porcelain)
  • Tuborg (brewery)
  • Pharma Nord (pharmaceuticals)

Denmark’s capital city is Copenhagen.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Denmark’s Top 15 Trading Partners

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 1, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 1, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 1, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 1, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Denmark. Accessed on March 1, 2017

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 1, 2017