Hjedding Andelsmejeri, the first co-optative dairy in the world

hjedding

Hjedding Andelsmejeri

The birthplace of the farmer co-operative dairy movement

In 1882 in this unimposing small building close to the town of Ølgod a group of local farmers held a meeting to discuss the best methods to churn butter, but they also founded Denmark’s first co-operative dairy and established the democratic, solidaric and profit-sharing co-operative principles.

Important for these small farmer driven co-operatives was the idea of independence, self-organisation, and self-government. The movement reduced economic inequality and was one of the major causes that Denmark developed to be one of the countries in the world with the best wealth disparity.

The producer controlled corporations born of the co-operative movement also kick started the large-scale production and export of the brands Lurpak butter and Danish bacon and other dairy and meat produce.

The 1950’s saw the demutualisation of of a series of the co-operative dairies, uniting into two joint stock companies Mejeriselskaberne Danmark and Kløver who later merged to found MD Foods and later merged with Swedish Arla to Arla Foods. Nearby Arla Tistrup Dairy dating from 1883 is Denmark’s oldest co-operative dairy still in operation. Hjedding Andelsmejeri is a dairy museum today..

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