Denmark’s Top 10 Exports

Denmark’s Top 10 Exports


South of fellow Scandinavian nations Sweden and Norway while sharing its own southern border with Germany, the Kingdom of Denmark shipped US$102.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017.

That dollar amount reflects a -7.2% drop since 2013 but an 8.6% increase from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Denmark’s exported goods plus services represent 54.5% of total Danish economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, almost three-quarters (74.1%) of Danish exports by value were delivered to other European countries. Another 12.7% were sold to Asian importers with 6% going to North America. Smaller percentages were delivered to customers in Africa (1.5%) and Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.3%).

Given Denmark’s population of 5.6 million people, its total $102.5 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $18,300 for every resident in that country.

Denmark’s unemployment rate was 4.1% as of January 2018 according to Trading Economics, down from 4.3% 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 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Denmark.

At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Denmark’s most valuable exported products are medication mixes in dosage, swine meat, refined petroleum oils, electric generating sets or converters, cheese and curd, miscellaneous engines or motors and fresh whole fish.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$14.4 billion (14% of total exports)
  2. Pharmaceuticals: $13 billion (12.6%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $8.7 billion (8.5%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: $5 billion (4.9%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $4.1 billion (4%)
  6. Meat: $3.7 billion (3.7%)
  7. Fish: $3.6 billion (3.5%)
  8. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $2.9 billion (2.9%)
  9. Vehicles: $2.9 billion (2.8%)
  10. Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.8 billion (2.7%)

Denmark’s top 10 exports accounted for 59.7% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Fish was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 38.1 in value from 2016 to 2017.

In second place was Denmark’s exported mineral fuels including oil via its 27.2% gain, followed by the 17.6% increase for the dairy, eggs and honey category.

One category declined in value, namely electrical machinery and equipment which retreated by -1%.


Overall Denmark earned a $9.6 billion trade surplus in 2017, up by 3.7% from the $9.2 billion in black ink one year earlier.

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 represent 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$8.8 billion (Up by 1.5% since 2016)
  2. Machinery including computers: $2.8 billion (Up by 53.6%)
  3. Meat: $2.7 billion (Up by 2%)
  4. Dairy, eggs, honey: $2 billion (Up by 17.8%)
  5. Live animals: $1.4 billion (Up by 29.8%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.4 billion (Up by 0.05%)
  7. Modified starches, glues, enzymes: $1.3 billion (Up by 5.7%)
  8. Cereal/milk preparations: $724.9 million (Up by 15.6%)
  9. Furskins, artificial fur: $690.1 million (Up by 37.6%)
  10. Organic chemicals: $653.9 million (Down by -10.3%)

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$4.7 billion (Up by 0.7% since 2016)
  2. Ships, boats: -$1.5 billion (Up by 91.7%)
  3. Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.4 billion (Up by 0.02%)
  4. Wood: -$1.1 billion (Up by 24.2%)
  5. Iron, steel: -$612.8 million (Up by 27.7%)
  6. Paper, paper items: -$606.6 million (Down by -1.2%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: -$587.9 million (Up by 0.2%)
  8. Footwear: -$461.8 million (Up by 2.4%)
  9. Rubber, rubber articles: -$444.6 million (Up by 2.1%)
  10. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$408.4 million (Reversing a $266.8 million surplus in 2016)

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)
  • Carlsberg (beverages)
  • Coloplast (medical equipment, supplies)
  • DSV (transportation, logistics)
  • Novo Nordisk (pharmaceuticals)
  • Novozymes (biotechs)
  • TDC (telecommunications services)
  • Vestas Wind Systems (electrical equipment)

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)
  • Pharma Nord (pharmaceuticals)
  • Royal Copenhagen (porcelain)
  • Tuborg (brewery)

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 10 Imports and Denmark’s Top 15 Trading Partners

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 27, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 27, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 27, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 27, 2018

Wikipedia, Denmark. Accessed on March 27, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Denmark. Accessed on March 27, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 27, 2018