Guide through the EU rules
Aud Mari Folden is Orkla's guide through the EU's jungle of regulations. In Brussels, she registers changes in the rules, monitors raw materials prices and acts as a lobbyist on matters relating to trade and agricultural policy. Because events in the EU in these areas may have both positive and negative consequences for Orkla companies.
Orkla's EU office was established by Nora in 1993. Its purpose was to monitor the trade policy consequences for Orkla in the event of a vote either for or against Norwegian membership of the Union. After the 1994 referendum, when Norway voted against joining the EU, the office was still relevant - perhaps even more so.
"Trade policy parameters have become increasingly important for the food industry in recent years. It is particularly important for Orkla to monitor developments in this area because we have production plants in so many countries, both inside and outside the EU," says Aud Mari Folden.
"My main tasks are to understand the current regulations as regards tariffs, export support, etc., be aware of changes in the regulations at an early stage and try to influence the formulation of regulations wherever possible," says Ms Folden.
So far she works alone, but she is looking forward to the arrival of a colleague who will be focusing on EU food legislation.
Understanding the market
As a result of Orkla Foods' strategy of focusing on Eastern Europe, we must improve our understanding of the East European market. "We wish to increase our knowledge of trade agreements between the EU and Eastern Europe, and between Norway and Eastern Europe. We are also concerned to find out how the expansion process in the EU will affect Orkla. One positive consequence may be that customs barriers will disappear for new member states, which will increase the possibilities for moving our products across national borders. However, competition on each market will become tougher," explains Ms Folden.
Stabburet's sausage production for Statoil petrol stations in Norway and Sweden is one example of how knowledge of EU regulations affects our business. Under normal circumstances, due to raw materials prices and customs barriers, it would be unprofitable to manufacture sausages in Norway for the Swedish market. However, because the sausages that are exported to Sweden are made from Swedish raw materials, we avoid the high customs barriers for goods entering the EU.
Orkla's trade policy network comprises representatives of Stabburet, Procordia Food, Abba Seafood, Beauvais, Felix Abba, Idun Industri, Orkla Foods International, Chips Scandinavian Compay, Denofa, Göteborgs Kex and Nidar.
"My job is to offer my expertise to Orkla companies, check the trade policy parameters for each country and carry out any other practical assignments the companies give me," relates Ms Folden.
Aud Mari Folden emphasises that she is working in Brussels to serve Orkla companies. "Anyone who has questions on practical issues or wants regular information on EU regulations is welcome to contact me," she says.
In addition to Ms Folden, Orkla's trade policy team consists of Håkon Mageli (Orkla Foods/Orkla), Agneta Nordström (Procordia Food/Orkla Foods) and Trond Aanerud (Stabburet/Orkla Foods).
"Together, we are the best trade policy team in the Nordic region!" smiles Ms Folden.