Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Small is beautiful By: Yu Chen

Small Is Beautiful— The Coffee Roasting Business in Bremen
After Aarhus, our trip becomes even more active and timely intense. We departed for Bremen by train at 5am, passing by Flensburg, Hamburg. It is interesting to note that there is no VISA check at the boarder due to European Union policy, which made the train trip. The advent of EU brings massive economic benefit to union members and the world, which might not be easily noticed in the normal life. At this time, I did enjoy the benefit of free pass and was thinking about its potential improvement of effectiveness and efficiency of the cooperation among countries in the European area. I think the EU policy makes the Europe even smaller.
It was 1pm when we arrived Bremen. Bremen is the second largest city in the northern Germany with about half million population. Bremen has a reputation as a working class city. Along with this, Bremen is home to a large number of multinational companies and manufacturing centers. Most importantly, people here have a beautiful mind that makes business constant and perpetual life.
We toured a coffee roasting business with about a hundred year history, now managed by his third generation. It roasts all kinds of coffee from 25 countries, mostly light-roasted which is Germany’s taste. They import green coffee beans from Africa, Asia and Central America. Its productivity is around 30 tons per year. Compared to other national roasters, whose capacity could be up to 20 tons per day, it is a very small size roasting business. In Bremen, however, it is one out of five largest roaster with a host of loyal customers. In contrast to industrialized producing in large national roasting companies, they insisted manual roasting, with an old-style roaster since 1958. Unlike controlled by computers, manual roasting really requires an extreme time and temperature control, which is not taught in books, but only in work. That means, practice makes perfect. As the manager said, her roasters usually need years of practice before independently handling the machine. This method/skill, accumulated by years, is really a great fortune. Even industry leaders like Starbucks tour her company many times, asking for how to make roaster better taste. But it is not easy to be copied. Its marketing network is very simple, consisting of a group of retailers and a small part of E-commerce. Although the manager didn’t mention her business culture, I could suggest that must be consistently high quality products for customers.  Just as the manager said, a proportion of customers could back to her grandfather’s time.
With a great reputation, this company runs very well. I ever asked why not to expand the market and make the business bigger, which I think they have capacity of enlarging productivity and market network. The manager said, “We are intending to be large. Because, it will hurt the quality of our products. Now we have an appropriate producing and a decent market. We are running well. As I think, to be small is good.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Royal FloralHolland and Urban Greeners: By Kylie Walterman

Royal FloraHolland and Urban Greeners

                From the first glimpses of Dutch scenery to the delicate art that adorns Delftware, it is apparent that horticulture and the greater Dutch culture are intricately entwined. Today, we toured Royal FloraHolland, the world’s largest flower auction, and UrbanGreeners, an entrepreneurial collective of young professionals dedicated to enhancing the relationship between nature and society.
                Royal FloraHolland was one of the most fascinating tours of the trip. An accurate description of the auction would be “Chicago Mercantile Exchange meets your local florist.” While the giant warehouse was filled with the heady scent of thousands of flowers, the din of transportation and logistics was nearly more overpowering. At every daily auction, thousands of flower trolleys are conveyed to their respective buyers in a complicated dance of traffic; each trolley is hauled by a person driving a small forklift-like vehicle. To ensure that the trolleys reach the correct destinations, a complicated system of lights and headset communication is used. The signals for these systems are determined in the auction itself, a combination of both digital and human trading. The tribunal, or the trading room, looks something like you would expect in finance, with headset-garbed traders engrossed in double computer screens (these would be “Bloom”berg terminals in the literal sense. The auction is a system of such intricacy that it rivals even its most delicate bloom. Time and precision are of the essence in bringing Dutch horticulture to the world markets.
                UrbanGreeners, a sustainable entrepreneurial collective, was fascinating in its own right. We met with Koen, a young architect with a passion for local and sustainable building. Our meeting took place in a floating houseboat designed and built by Koen himself, with rafters of curved wood sourced from a forest only a few hundred meters away. The collective is filled with passion for weaving the Dutch love of nature and horticulture into a new type of community, the green city. The group is involved in planning Floriade 2022, a world expo of horticulture, in which UrbanGreeners hopes to create a fully self-sufficient city that will long outlive the Floriade itself, providing an inspiration for the creation of green cities everywhere.
                To say that The Netherlands has a culture of horticulture would be redundant, as the two words seem nearly interchangeable. From the enormous yet intricate auctions at Royal FloraHolland to the young passion of UrbanGreeners, the Dutch way of marrying horticulture with daily life provides a realistic inspiration for a more beautiful and sustainable world. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


No, I’m not talking about the singer!  For our last evening in Denmark, each of us were invited to have dinner with a Danish family.
My hosts, Annette and Sig, were recent retirees.  Their friend Vibaken Meyer (!) picked myself and Paulo (an Italian attending the conference) in her new Volvo, which she explained was her retirement gift.  After a short ride, we arrived and met Annette and Sig at their apartment (or flat as they say in Europe).
From the outside it was unimpressive, not looking much nicer than student housing in Brookings.  The inside was a different story; think about an IKEA catalog, only with much better quality.  Nearly seconds after we arrived, the hospitality started.
Our appetizer was wine and chicken pot pies (I can’t remember or say the Danish word), which were very similar to what we eat at home, but with some sort of seafood influence in the gravy.  Our main dish was meatloaf, new potatoes and cucumber salad.  As I told Dr. Klein, it was very similar to what what you would expect at a church potluck in South Dakota.
Don’t get me wrong, the food has been great, but it is certainly clear the Northern European food culture is not much different than what all of us grew up eating.
The lively part of our conversation centered around one Mr. Donald Trump.  Paulo was happy to see the US suffering with such a buffoon close to the highest office in the world as Italy dealt with a similar leader in Italy, Vibaken, Sig and Anette were horrified Americans (whom they deeply respect) could allow such a thing to happen.
One thing I made clear to them was that most of us do not believe in the unempathetic rhetoric Mr. Trump exudes, and that as educated Americans we all felt inclined to discuss, disagree, and learn about such issues.  They were thankful to hear such an opinion (full disclosure, I’m a Republican who will NOT vote for Donald).
Most surprising was their delight in paying taxes.  They felt it provided a safety net for anyone who faced hardship.  On the other hand, Vibaken was quite outspoken that migrants must work for three months before obtaining government support.
The parallels didn’t stop with food or politics.  Annette was eager to learn about my family and excited to help me find gifts to take home to my children.  For my daughter she sent me home with a bead set to make necklaces, and for both of them they sent giant shells they had collected at a recent visit to Normandy.

The night ended with discussion about the War and many other things.  By then it was midnight, and I had a 530 busride to catch the next day.  All of us exchanged contact information and promised to visit sometime in the future.

Monday, June 20, 2016

IFAMA Day One: By Maggie Kramer

Today was IFAMA day one!  IFAMA or International Food and Agribusiness Management Association hosts a week-long conference on agriculture and food management annually.  The conference includes a student case study along with symposiums, tours, and much more.  South Dakota State University was fortunate enough to compete in the case study competition with three teams today—two graduate teams and one undergraduate team.  Each of us worked diligently to apply what we’ve learned in our 3+ years at SDSU.  Teams were presented with a case study and given four hours to read, analyze, and recommend a solution before presenting their case to a panel of judges.  Presentations included 15 minutes of presenting our recommendations followed by a five-minute question and answer session.  The 2016 IFAMA case study competition focused on agricultural sustainability along with the debate over public or privately funded research.  SDSU students were able to present a unique case on this topic given our presence in the agribusiness world.   

After this daylong competition, the judges gathered and debated on which teams would advance to the final round of the case study competition—unfortunately the three SDSU teams did not advance. 

Following the IFAMA conference, the SDSU crew retired to the hotel for a night of rest.  We are looking forward to a day packed with symposiums and museums tomorrow.  Tomorrow night we head off for IFAMA’s “dinner with the danes” which allows participants to dine with a Danish family from Aarhus.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Greetings from Aarhus (“aaauuhus” /ˈɔɹˌhus/ ) By: Raymond Opoku

Greetings from Aarhus (“aaauuhus” /ˈɔɹˌhus/ )

The difference in time will not allow my body to follow its regular sleep routine so I thought I would write instead. It’s strange how at 3:30 am in the morning broad daylight pierces through my hotel room window as though it were 7 am. Interesting right?

Well, let’s start.

The optimist in me mentioned to a friend that we will embark on this trip regardless and I recall him saying that, yes will but probably next year! Haha. 
The stress and frustration of getting the Danish Visa made me almost give up on the trip Thanks to every member of the team Dr. Klein, Tim Mayer, Sally Gilman and particularly Dr. Vandersluis for his relentless effort amidst his busy schedule and to making sure that all went well and the trip came off this year instead.

We left Brookings for Minneapolis in a van driving by Tim. All was well till check-in time at about 5:35 pm at the Minneapolis Saint Paul’s Airport. Nazia, was asked to provide an extra travel document and this made every one worried but was sorted out. As such we were the last people to board the flight to JFK. The transit from JFK to Copenhagen was much smoother and hustle free.

You might have noticed by now the pronunciation of the city name Aarhus. On arrival at the Danish airport, the immigration officer muffled something in Danish, releasing I didn’t understand a thing of what he said, he asked why have come to his country with a congenial smile in engilsh. I responded by stating that I’m attending a conference in his beautiful country. Then came the follow up question, Where?. I said Aarhus!. He corrected me by stressing on the two A’s in the name. My first lesson in Danish 101 had begun!

The first leg of our trip came to an end with lots of activities, from meeting with Mr. Jan Lauritsen at the Danish agriculture and Food Cluster on the first day of arrival to a guided boat tour of the city of Copenhagen. From a fishing background, I loved the boat tour particularly. 

After a 3 hour train ride from Copenhagen to Aarhus-the second-largest city in Denmark, We had to check into our various hotel rooms and grab a bite to eat. Refreshing and unpacking took longer for me than the designated time. As a result, I joined the group a little late at the Cabinn Hotel reception lobby. 

Indeed, in a group of 12, one will expect difference in taste and preference food. While the boys chose to go the “boys way”, the rest of the group stayed together. The team of boys, chose Shushi over anything. We found ourselves in a nice but price Shushi place but with the quality of service from the waitress, we could expect nothing less. While at the joint, we discussed International politics and foreign policy, Economics and trade. We returned to the hotel at about 11pm to iron our clothes for the main event on Sunday June 19th. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tour of Copenhagen By: Tracie Buttke

Tour of Copenhagen 
Saturday, June 18, 2016
By: Tracie Buttke
Today we started out the day early.  We woke up at 5 a.m. because of the time difference compared to home.  A few members of the group decided to take an early walk around a little pond close to the hostel we stayed at.  After a short walk we got ready for the day then attended breakfast.  The breakfast provided was different than the typical American breakfast. It included bread, sandwich meat, cheese, fruit, yogurt and cereal.  The bread here is very delicious.
After breakfast we packed up and left the hostel.  We walked with our luggage to a nearby bus stop to travel to the central train station.  Here, we dropped off our luggage and bought train tickets to travel to Aarhus later in the evening.  As soon as the tickets were purchased, we walked from the central train station to the harbor which was 2 km. There we were able to experience European culture. 
At the harbor there were boat tours, restaurants and the royal palace.  First, we went to see the royal palace. Here we saw the changing of the guards in front of the palace.  After we attended that, we planned to take a boat tour. On this tour, we saw many important historic buildings near the canals. We were able to see where parliament meets, the little mermaid statue, and an international cliff diving competition.  This competition does not normally take place, so we were lucky enough to see some of it.  After the tour, we met up with one of Evert’s friends and she showed us some more sights in Copenhagen.
The main place she wanted to take us was the University.  The University here was founded in the 1400s. She told us that the university is hard to get into and most of the building are quite old.  Also, the university buildings are spread out all over the city. They do not have a campus like SDSU.  After that we walked pass varies places and grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to the train station. 
We then got a luggage and headed for the train. The train to Aarhus took 3 hours and most people slept on the way there. The train travel around 110 mph on the way there and had various stops along the way. When we arrived in Aarhus we walked with our luggage to the hotel.  After receiving our rooms, we headed out to find a bite to eat. Then after supper we headed back to the hotel for the night.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Denmark, a new Pork Queen?

Welcome from the Danhostel living room!

It's 2:02 AM here, and after falling quickly asleep around 10PM, I am predictably restless as my internal clock thinks it is time to wake up.  I'll take the chance to blog about our day yesterday before I try to get back to sleep.

If you've traveled to Europe before, you know that the first "day" is really two days condensed into one 40-42 hour period.  We left JFK around 930 PM Central time, and landed in Copenhagen 13.5 "hours" later, 7.5 of it being actual flight time with 6 hours of time change.

After getting our bags, we made our way out of the airport quite easily and to our first meeting with Mr. Jan Lauritsen, head of the Danish Food Cluster.

Meeting with Jan was fascinating.  He explained how his group worked with private farmers, cooperatives of farmers, consumers, industry, the government, and the EU.  In many ways his organization represents many of the functions of the Econ department at a research University.  Research, Extension, and outreach are all part of their day to day functions.

Dr. Van der Sluis asked the last question during our 90 minute session, asking Jan if there was some advice he could give to young economists, specifically us.  His response was very good, he asked that we always keep in mind other points of view and ways of doing business.  His entire presentation embodied this sentiment, and is one many policy makers and Bureaucrats in the United States could benefit from trying.  Brexit, The EU in general, Russia, and trade policy under a new US Republican President would all be things cooperation would help.

After leaving our meeting we headed to our accommodations for the night, the Danhostel hotel.  Careful not to get too comfortable, we spent an hour getting settled into our rooms before we headed out for the evening.

After a quick bus ride and walking around downtown Copenhagen, we settled on a traditional Danish restaurant.  We quickly discovered that Danish cuisine is not much different than what many of us grew up eating in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.  The restaurant was fun and delicious, albeit a bit pricey.

During dinner, we talked about how we knew Denmark was a big Pork exporter, but had no idea how extensive it was, and how pervasive pork was on all the menus.

After dinner we broke up and headed home.  One observation I was quick to point out to students was the bike culture in Copenhagen, where the bikes clearly rule the road.  Perhaps I haven't been so crazy riding my bike to Scobey each day for the past five years!

Thanks for reading.  Look forward to student posts tomorrow.