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FOOD & DRINK

Denmark sees dramatic reduction in food waste

Danes have begun to appreciate the value - both financial and environmental - in buying discounted food nearing its expiry date, a trend which has accelerated rapidly in recent years.

Denmark sees dramatic reduction in food waste
Photo: Colourbox

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.

See also: Leftover festival food feeds thousands

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.

See also: Danes take 'tryvertising' idea to New York

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.

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FOOD & DRINK

Nordic chef sets up world’s northernmost Michelin restaurant in Greenland

You can only get there by boat or helicopter, but Michelin-starred chef Poul Andrias Ziska hopes his restaurant in remote Greenland, far above the Arctic Circle, is worth the journey.

Nordic chef sets up world's northernmost Michelin restaurant in Greenland

The 30-year-old chef relocated his restaurant KOKS from the Faroe Islands in mid-June, leaving behind his relatively accessible address for Ilimanaq, a
hamlet of 50 inhabitants hidden behind icebergs on the 69th parallel north.

Housed in a narrow black wooden house, one of the oldest in Greenland, the restaurant can only accommodate about 20 people per service, and experiments with local produce, including whale and seaweed, with fresh produce almost impossible to find in the harsh climate.

“We try to focus on as much Greenlandic products as possible, so everything from Greenland halibut to snow crabs to musk ox to Ptarmigan, different herbs and different berries,” the tousled-haired, bearded chef tells AFP.

Double-Michelin-starred Faroese chef of KOKS restaurant Poul Andrias Ziska is photographed outside the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland on 28th June 2022

Double-Michelin-starred Faroese chef of KOKS restaurant Poul Andrias Ziska is photographed outside the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland on 28th June 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

The young chef previously ran KOKS at home in the remote Faroe Islands, where he won his first star in 2017, his second in 2019, and the title of the
world’s most isolated Michelin restaurant. 

He plans to return there for a permanent installation, but explains he had always wanted to stretch his gastronomical legs in another territory in the
far north, like Iceland, Greenland or even Svalbard.

He finally chose Ilimanaq, located an hour’s boat trip from Ilulissat, the third-largest town in Greenland and famous for its huge glacier.

Greenland, the world’s largest island, is an autonomous Danish dependent territory.

Local products

“We just found it more suitable, more fun to do something completely different before we move back in our permanent restaurant,” he tells AFP from
his kitchen, set up in a trailer outside the house with the dining area.

With 20 courses, the extensive tasting menu will delight the taste buds for some 2,100 kroner ($280), excluding wine and drinks.

“The menu is exquisite and sends you to the far north and back,” Devid Gualandris, a charmed visitor, tells AFP.

“From the whale bites to the wines, from the freshly caught fish and shellfish to the curated desserts, everything is bursting with flavour.”

While whale meat is a staple food in Greenland and Ziska’s native Faroe Islands, whaling is banned in most of the world and activists have called for
an end to the practice.

A KOKS chef prepares food at the kitchen of the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland, on 28th June 2022.

A KOKS chef prepares food at the kitchen of the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland, on 28th June 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

An unlikely locale for a gourmet restaurant, Ilimanaq — Greenlandic for “place of hope” — is home to a small community living in picturesque wooden
houses, next to hiking trails and more fittingly a luxury hotel, making it an ideal stopover for wealthy tourists seeking to explore new frontiers.

For Ziska, the customers in Greenland are different.

“There are a lot of people for which the number one priority is to visit Greenland and then they come to our restaurant,” he says.

“In the Faroe Islands we had mainly people interested in coming and eating at our restaurant and then obviously also visiting the Faroe Islands,” the
chef explains.

In addition to the adventurers who have already been lured by the Arctic landscape, the Greenlandic Tourist Board hopes the restaurant will also help
attract gourmet travellers.   

People get seated in a restaurant overlooking Disko Bay in Ilulissat, western Greenland, on 30th June, 2022.

People get seated in a restaurant overlooking Disko Bay in Ilulissat, western Greenland, on 30th June, 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

“The unique combination of high-level gastronomy, the inherent sustainability of the North Atlantic cuisine and the characteristic nature and resources of the Disko Bay, speaks to all our senses,” Visit Greenland’s director, Hjortur Smarason, said when announcing the arrival of KOKS.

Accommodation at the Ilimanaq Lodge, the current home of the KOKS restaurant in Ilimanaq, Greenland, where guests can watch whales and floating icebergs in the Disko Bay. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

A long-overlooked destination, Greenland — an Arctic island territory nine times the size of the UK — welcomed more than 100,000 tourists in 2019, nearly double its population, before Covid cut the momentum.

Smarason said the presence of KOKS “is exactly what we strive for in our effort to reach a certain distinguished kind of guests”.  The restaurant is open between the 12th June and 8th September, 2022 and 2023. 

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