In the late 1880s, English traders complained that the Danish eggs were rotten when they arrived in England. With the visionary school teacher Frederik Møller at the forefront, Dansk Andels Ægexport (today DANÆG) was founded to save the export of Danish eggs. Stringent quality requirements at the farms, the introduction of traceability codes on eggs and good sorting of the eggs were the decisive factors for the company's success in more than 125 years.
In the mid-19th century, eggs and poultry did not play a socio-economic role. The trade of eggs was poorly organized and it was not until the onset of regular steamship connections between Denmark and England after 1865 that export of Danish foods took off. Back then, eggs were mainly a by-product of the sale of "the yellow gold" - the Danish butter - and thus the quality of the eggs was not a concern.
Exports gradually rose to a certain size, and there was a lot of speculation in hiding eggs until prices were at their highest. The eggs were therefore increasingly poor or rotten when they reached the buyers.
The complaints escalated in the 1880s, when several English companies gradually refused to sell the Danish eggs. This led the English trade magazine "The Grocer" to quote Hamlet's words that there was "something rotten in the state of Denmark" with the Danish eggs in mind. It was not without reason, therefore, that the establishment of Dansk Andels Ægexport in 1895 was driven by a strong mission to improve the quality of Danish eggs.
The egg farmers who entered Dansk Andels Ægexport were required to only supply fresh eggs, to clean the barns and to collect eggs daily.
As the first in the world, the cooperative also introduced that all farms had to stamp their eggs with a traceability code so that the individual farmer could be fined if the quality requirements were not met.
Upon joining Dansk Andels Ægexport, the egg producers also became co-owners of the company. Today, DANÆG continues to be owned by its egg producers, as well as DLG, one of Europe's largest agribusiness companies.
However, the quality standards did not only apply to the producers, but also the sorting and packing of the eggs at the company's egg packing facilities. Consequently, at the egg packing plants the employees were adept at sorting the eggs by size, removing cracked eggs by screening and packing them safely so that they could handle the journey across the North Sea.
Already in the first years after the cooperative's establishment, the quality rose highly, which meant that Danish eggs were soon rewarded with higher prices and a good reputation in England.