According to the latest figures from the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Denmark has seen a significant reduction – 25 percent – in food waste over the last five years.
Denmark's biggest NGO against food waste, Stop Wasting Food movement Denmark (Stop Spild Af Mad), has been leading the initiative to get consumers and supermarkets to find innovative solutions to reducing the amount of food that gets thrown out. Founder Selina Juul was thrilled about the new figures.
“This is a fantastic result of our work! Stop Wasting Food movement Denmark was fighting against food waste for the last 7 years. With massive actions such as consumer education campaigns, school campaigns, United Against Food Waste events and collaboration with entire value chain, the food waste in Denmark had beed drastically reduced. We have not reached our goal yet - but we are on the right track,” wrote Juul in a press release.
Dansk Supermarked and Coop, Denmark's two largest retail companies, have also observed a trend where Danes have increasingly begun to buy food products nearing their expiry date, which supermarkets usually sell at a discount.
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Reducing food waste has become a core strategy among Danish supermarket chains to increase competitiveness, and nearly all of them have implemented initiatives to that end. It has made Denmark the EU country with the highest proportion of supermarket chains focusing on food waste, according to Danish Trade Magazine (Dansk Handelsblad).
Signe Frese, environment manager at Coop, told TV2 that food products nearing expiry are flying off the shelves, and that their supermarket chains (including Irma, Kvickly and Fakta among others) manage to sell everything before closing time.
“We began with our initiative against food waste a couple years ago. Ever since we started on this, there has been a positive response and in fact a demand for near-expiry products. Customers often ask when we will be re-stocking these discounted products when there are none left on the shelves,” Frese explained.
Maja Lindstrøm Sejersen, communications director at Dansk Supermarked, has also observed that Danes shopping in their Bilka, Netto and Føtex chains are happy to buy food nearing its expiry date – provided that it comes at a discount.
According to Dansk Supermarked, the company now throws away between 10 to 20 percent less fruit and vegetables compared to just a few years ago, and 50 percent less bread.
“It may seem like a small thing, but it makes a big difference, and our customers appreciate it. No one likes to throw away food that could potentially be sold and consumed, and we continue to strive to reduce food waste in Føtex, Netto and Bilka,” Sejersen told TV2.