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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Why coffee could cost more for Danish consumers in 2022

The price of raw coffee beans recently reached its highest level for ten years, media in Scandinavia report, a trend which is likely to impact consumer prices in the region.

A photo of coffee beans in Denmark. Consumers in the country may soon notice a higher cost per cup.
A photo of coffee beans in Denmark. Consumers in the country may soon notice a higher cost per cup. File photo: Mathias Svold/Ritzau Scanpix

Raw coffee currently costs more than at any time in the last decade, Norwegian financial media E24 reported on Tuesday.

A doubling of the cost per kilo during the last year, reported by E24 in the summer, has been followed by further increased in recent months. The current price of 37 Norwegian kroner (28.3 Danish kroner) per kilogram is the highest for a decade, the media writes.

That is in spite of a strengthening of Norway’s currency against the US dollar, according to E24. The Danish krone is also currently strong.

Because raw coffee beans are always traded in dollars, with prices set by the New York Stock Exchange a strong exchange rate should theoretically make the beans cheaper to import to Nordic countries.

“I think we are seeing a new normal when it comes to the industrial market price of coffee,” Ola Brattås, head of imports with Norwegian chain Kaffebrenneriet, told E24.

Higher prices have already made an impression on Danish coffee companies.

Markets for the product are currently uncertain, said Lars Aaen Thøgersen, head of communication and development with Peter Larsen Kaffe.

“It’s been this way for some time. There has been uncertainty around the harvest, particularly in Brazil,” Thøgersen told news wire Ritzau.

Drought in Brazil, linked to illegal rainforest logging and climate change, is reported by E24 as a key factor in coffee prices. The International Coffee Organization’s September 2021 report also mentions weather in Brazil.

That has compounded higher transport costs and general uncertainty related to the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

Although companies like Peter Larsen can purchase coffee directly from producers and thereby avoid financial markets, they are unable to avoid knock-om effects of high market values, according to Thøgersen.

“When this happens, all supplies around us are affected. So that naturally also affects our situation,” he said.

That means consumers are likely to also feel the effects at some point down the line, the coffee company spokesperson said.

“Consumers can already feel that prices have gone up now, and it will quite likely also be felt further,” he said.

“But it should also be put into perspective, because if you calculate per cup of coffee, a consumer will only notice a few øre (difference in price),” he also noted.

Supermarket chain Coop, which owns the Kvickly, Superbrugsen and Irma stores in Denmark, is currently negotiating 2022 supplier prices. The outcome of those negotiations is not yet known,” head of information Jens Juul Nielsen told Ritzau.

“How this will be felt on store shelves, we can’t yet say,” Nielsen said.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s energy prices hit highest level for nine years