Resource Use

Surplus supermarket hopes to tackle Denmark’s food waste

Surplus supermarket hopes to tackle Denmark’s food waste
A supermarket selling only surplus food from other stores at reductions of up to half price has opened in Copenhagen.

WeFood was officially opened on Monday (22 February) by the Folkekirkens Nødhjælp charity, which works to strengthen those living in poverty around the world.

By selling produce that has either been discarded due to having damaged packaging or being past its sell-by date, at prices between 30 and 50 per cent cheaper than in normal supermarkets, the store hopes to cut down on the 700,000 tonnes of food wasted daily in Denmark.

A deal has already been established with Føtex, one of the largest supermarket chains in Denmark, which will see the charity supplied with bread and other products from the retailer's stores in the Danish capital. Volunteers will pick up produce from the stores as well as other local suppliers, which include bakeries, importers of citrus fruits, a butcher, and a producer of cereal bars.  

The store hopes to provide food to both low-income shoppers and those who are conscious of the amount of food being wasted, and its profits will go towards the charity’s projects helping those living in poverty.

The supermarket is the result of a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than DKK 1 million (£105,700). The Roskilde Foundation, which runs the annual Roskilde music festival, offered a DKK 500,000 (£53,000) donation should Folkekirkens Nødhjælp be able to match it. The campaign was established and had doubled its target within three weeks.

‘Heartbreaking’ waste amidst worldwide poverty

The store was officially opened by Folkekirkens Nødhjælp patron HRH Princess Marie of Denmark. Speaking at the event, the charity’s General Secretary Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen said that the supermarket’s development was driven by the 790 million people worldwide that ‘live in such deep poverty that they must go to bed hungry’, while in Denmark 700,000 tonnes of food are thrown out and destroyed every year.

She added that this ‘heartbreaking contradiction’ is one of the major reasons why the charity has taken the lead in establishing WeFood.

The store will be open on weekdays from 3 to 8pm. If it is successful, the charity, which already runs a range of secondhand charity shops manned by over 3,500 volunteers, hopes to expand the concept to the rest of the country.

Surplus supermarket hopes to tackle Denmark’s food waste

Positive feedback

Per Bjerre, a spokesperson for the initiative, said: “WeFood is the first supermarket of its kind in Denmark and perhaps even in the world. We are not just reaching out to low-income shoppers, but trying to appeal to anyone concerned about the amount of food waste produced in our society.

“Based on the positive feedback, it is safe to say that many people see this as a positive and politically correct way to approach the issue food waste.”

The Danish Minister for Food and the Environment, Eva Kjer Hansen participated in the opening event. She said: “It’s ridiculous that food is just thrown out or goes to waste. A supermarket like WeFood makes so much sense and is an important step in the battle to combat food waste.”

More information about WeFood can be found on Folkekirkens Nødhjælp's (Danish) website.